Division Four of the Eastern Football League was well and truly alive at Donvale Reserve on Saturday. Brendan Fevola was the star attraction, pulling on a Magpies jumper, but the Glen Waverley Hawks spoiled the party by winning their sixth game in a row.
The former Carlton and Brisbane full-forward kicked six goals of Donvale’s total of 12.3.75, not enough to overcome the Hawks five goal last quarter, their 14.16.100 final scoreline giving the visitors a lot to cheer about.
Tim Pape opened the scoring, and the flurry of early Hawks chances inside 50 meant opportunities came but weren’t converted. Captain Jesse Dunn missed to put the Hawks further up, and Donvale capitalised by sending it to Fevola in the square, who duly converted.
Akin to a seesaw, the game was never blown open by either side. Jeremy Grocott was superb crumbing the ball, while Matt Leardi worked diligently to create space for Donvale.
Critically, Donvale’s strength at the contests allowed them to win the contested ball more often than not; however, turnovers gifted chances to the Hawks, who took a 19 point lead into the quarter time break.
That margin threatened to break out beyond 30 points and stay there for the remainder of the game, but missed opportunities in front of goal meant Donvale went into the main break just 15 points behind. Jack Dunn, Ryan Goold and Adam Amin all kicked their games up a gear. The Hawks better ball control didn’t go unnoticed, but the Magpies continually pestered. Strong lead-ups from Leardi, Adam Woods and Fevola ensured Donvale stayed competitive on the scoreboard.
As far as the weather was concerned, a dry football meant fast paced movement through the middle, which Glen Waverley executed far better after half time. The Hawks 4-2 lead on inside 50’s early in the third term was continually marred by missed chances, and the Donvale defence hard on the aggressive spoils.
Donvale’s third-term goals all came from the boot of Fevola, who earlier in the day snapped an around-the-body kick that snuck home, much to the delight of the strong crowd.
On-field decisions made by the umpires gave whoever was the benefactor yet another chance to go further in front. However, a Donvale turnover lead to a goal for Luke Broad, and the Hawks began to expose the heavy targeting of Fevola deep in the Magpies attacking 50.
Hawks coach Ryan Flack emphasised at three-quarter time to his players to not get caught up by the hype of the crowd and the support for Fevola; that teammates helping teammates and the knowledge the players could run out the four quarters and finish on top would be enough of a driver for Glen Waverley to get up.
The flurry from Donvale came in a hurry, with Fevola, Grocott and Adam Woods all attacking the scoreboard. Glen Waverley rallied as a team in the second half of the last quarter, quelling delivery into Donvale’s forward 50 and sending it quicksmart up the wing or through the centre corridor.
Amin, Goold, Josh McInerney and Gavin Cruse were instrumental ball winners, as a five goal salvo was enough to seal the deal and give the Hawks a win and a percentage boost to above 100 after nine rounds.
Competitiveness has been one of Donvale’s key victories after re-entering the Eastern Football League this season. Despite a loss at home, the three-quarter effort in which they kept pace with Glen Waverley is along the lines of the five year plan hinted at by Coach Angelo Lamana, who wants to be out of Division Four by that time.
While Fevola may not have snaffled the four points for Donvale, he was well admired by the crowd, and appreciated by all of those affiliated with the club, as they re-stock and work towards a new era.
Now at the halfway point of the season, Glen Waverley is well poised to attack the top three of Warrandyte, Coldstream and Forest Hill, but will need to rapidly improve their percentage. Donvale travel to Nunawading next week, who fell to the Eastern Lions. The Hawks travel to Warrandyte to meet the wall of the Bloods, who sit well clear on the top of the ladder.