KDL | Avenel flexes its muscles with clinical four-quarter performance
It is remarkable to think that up until now, Avenel was yet to hit its peak.
But according to coach Kasey Duncan, his side’s 26.14 (170) to 2.1 (13) win over Merrigum at the weekend — its 11th victory from as many games — was the first complete, four-quarter performance his team has put together this season.
Sending an ominous message to the rest of the competition, the Swans were on from beginning to end, punishing the Bulldogs with their grunt around the contest, slick ball movement and dominant forward line.
Duncan said it was pleasing to see his team put in such a strong performance, particularly on the defensive end.
“From our point of view it was probably our first real quarter effort and we were able to play our footy for the majority of the game,” Duncan said.
“Our footy means we are strangling sides with our midfield working hard as a unit defensively and our rebounders doing the job to surge the ball forward.
“Missing a few of our best backs, we had a number of guys step up and play some big roles back there, so to keep them to that scoreline, it was a pretty incredible effort.”
But while the win was set up by the Swans’ work defensively, it was in attack where the headlines came, as duo Jake Sutherland (nine) and Braydon Avola (eight) combined for a whopping 17 goals.
Duncan said it was excellent to see the pair get some reward on the score sheet after fantastic starts to the season.
“Jake is just a big boy. When he’s leading at the ball and presenting strongly, he generally clunks them and kicks straight,” Duncan said.
“After playing in the reserves for much of the past few years, he’s been a real presence for us.
“And then Braydon Avola is just a gun. He can play anywhere, whether that’s racking them up through the midfield or going forward and hitting the scoreboard, and there’s a reason why he’s regarded as one of the best players in the competition.
“Playing as that small deeper forward, his pressure was immense and the ball just seemed to follow him wherever he went.”
But when it came to selecting the best players on the day, Avola and Sutherland had to settle for second and third spot, with a prolific performance by midfielder Mitch Tobin earning him best-on-ground honours.
“Mitch was just a standout all day. I reckon he would have had close to 60 touches and 20 clearances. He just couldn’t be touched,” Duncan said of Tobin’s performance.
“It’s his work rate running both ways that really stands out. Everything he does around the footy is complete and he makes our midfield just tick the way it does.”
Currently sitting a game clear on top of the ladder, Avenel will welcome second-placed Murchison-Toolamba next weekend in what is set to be a fascinating contest.
Nagambie bounced back from a disappointing loss last week to record a clinical 24.17 (161) to 8.5 (53) win over Tallygaroopna.
An eight-goal opening term proved the catalyst for the pivotal triumph, which sees the Lakers just percentage out of the top eight.
Brayden Biggs and Nathan Fothergill were the standouts up forward, booting four goals apiece, while Jonathan Moore was best-on-ground after a prolific performance.
In other results, Murchison-Toolamba recorded a vital 11-point win over Shepparton East to jump into second place.
Undera and Stanhope cruised to big victories over Rushworth and Longwood respectively.
Lancaster was too good for a spirited Dookie United, while Violet Town rounded out the winners’ list with a comprehensive win over Girgarre.