VFL REPORT (Leader Newspapers): Eli Templeton Best Afield as Borough Bounce Coburg
Reported by Paul Amy
“WHAT’S that they’re singing?’’ Port Melbourne board man Les Quarrell quipped as he came down from the coaching box and heard the commotion from the changerooms.
The Borough hadn’t been able to give the club song a burst for a few weeks — since Round 10, in fact.
But they gave a full-throated rendition of it on Saturday after thrashing Coburg in the Round 17 match at North Port Oval.
A seven-goal first quarter set them up for a 68-point victory, 18.11 (119) to 7.9 (51), as they took stock after a bumpy run.
“Well, it was funny. The girls (Port’s women’s team) beat Seaford and they were singing it and I just thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be bloody nice to sing that again!’’ coach Gary Ayres said.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been just going for a variety of reasons but today we did things a bit longer, a bit better, a bit harder.
“The start was the key to it.’’
And it started out of the middle, with big Michael Wenn getting first hands on the ball and directing it in the path of Eli Templeton, who either darted away with it or gave it to a teammate in the clear.
They were clean touches. He made them count.
Templeton encountered little pressure from Coburg, whose coach, Leigh Adams, had announced on Thursday night that he would be stepping down at the end of the season.
Templeton opened Port’s goal tally. And then they came with a rush: from Jordie Lisle out of a ruck contest, from Tom “Junior’’ O’Sullivan after a strong mark, from Jake Gasper after a free kick, from Dylan Conway with a set-shot, from Lisle off the ground. The Borough had 6.3 on the board before Coburg had scored.
Just before quarter time the player stats on the VFL’s super-duper app showed eight Lions hadn’t had a possession.
The visitors at least managed to check the flow of Port goals in the second quarter.
That was the best that could be said about their first half. At half time Adams took his white board and headed down the race with a face as a long as Williamstown Rd.
The Lions showed more fight in the second half, Marcus Lentini ever-present around the packs (he finished with 31 possessions), key defender Harry Nolan conceding nothing in his duel with Lisle and veteran Steve Stroobants getting busy up forward.
Port co-captain Lisle kicked four goals, as did first-year player Gasper, who topped the TAC Cup goalkicking last year with Oakleigh Chargers. He knows where they are, as they say.
Templeton had 30 disposals and the Borough also had some midfield bite from Trent Crosbie (23 possessions) in his second game.
Ayres thought Crosbie was a good inclusion and praised Wenn’s work in the ruck. He had 41-hit-outs.
Ayres said Port was “starting again from scratch’’ after its run of outs.
“What happened in the last month, we want to put that to bed. It’s a mini-season within the season now,’’ he said.
Adams was aghast with his team’s poor start.
“To get done in the contested footy and in the clearances set a standard for the game,’’ he said.
“The boys fought on in the second half but it was too little, too late.’’
Asked about his decision to stand down, Adams said he had taken his players “as far as I possibly can’’.
“I don’t think I can do any more with what we’ve got,’’ he said. “It was easier to make the decision as quick as possible so they (the board) can look to get a replacement in and keep as many boys as possible knowing who their coach will be for next year.
“It’s going to be a tough year for them on the road (the Coburg City Oval is being redeveloped next year) so if they can get as much player buy-in as they can now it will help them, rather than me waiting until the end of the year to tell them.’’
He said the announcement about his future “probably affected them (the players) at some level’’.
“It was going to go one way or the other, wasn’t it? They were going to come out and play really well to start with or …. but I thought it had got to the stage where we should be honest with them and tell them what was going on.
“It’s a pretty tough thing for them to take, that their coach is moving on but he’s going to coach out the rest of the year. I’m hoping it had some sort of affect. Otherwise it was a pretty poor start by us.’’
He said Coburg’s next coach would take hold of a “really good nucleus, a good bunch of blokes who want to play for each other and the club’’.
To the suggestion he was returning to North Melbourne as an assistant, Adams laughed and said: “I wish. I’m hoping for a job. Fingers crossed. It is the aim (the join an AFL club) and hopefully something will come of that.’’