Norwood’s blistering end of season form continued on Saturday with a comprehensive 70 point thrashing of a struggling Montrose at Montrose Reserve.   The win was our 5th on the trot and was never in doubt as we opened up a 26 point quarter time lead, increased that to 51 by half-time, switched off a little in the 3rd before powering home in the last to a very easy win.  There was bitter-sweet feeling at game’s end however, as results from around the grounds filtered through and confirmed that our paper-thin chances of qualifying for finals, the old “mathematical possibility”, had been dashed after wins from Blackburn and Balwyn.  Ironically, an unlikely loss by Noble Park at Nth Ringwood, invoking memories of our own failure there, was not enough to help us.

On a cold but mostly clear winters day we kicked down hill to the forest end in the first quarter and saw Leroy matched to a much smaller opponent.  Within minutes Leigh had our first two on the board and looked set for a huge day as we dominated across the ground.  12 minutes in Lochie Dickson added one from a well-weighted pass from Zak Carroll and soon after Fingers added another with a classy finish from 45 after picking up a loose ball at half-forward.   We looked set for a 7 or 8 goal quarter but went strangely dormant for 10 minutes or so, Skave missing one he could have nailed. As 1/4T approached we had not added another goal and looked likely to go in under-rewarded from our dominance, but a brilliant passage of play allowed Pearso to handball to Leroy running in on his left from a tight angle to slot a very good goal, then on the siren Gouldy marked strongly overhead, wheeled around and hit Leroy lace out with some simply perfect footy.  After the siren Leroy had no trouble from 40 for his 4th and our 6th as we led 6.4 – 2.2.

With Nostradamus-like accuracy Denis predicted in the QT huddle that Montrose would drop an extra man back onto Leigh, so the big guy was told to sacrifice his own game and get up the ground to make space for others.  Following instructions to the letter, Leigh did just this allowing space for the vastly under-rated Matt Aver to mark imperiously twice in the opening minutes of the 2nd quarter and goal both times, as the result in this game became a foregone conclusion very early. The other consequence of Montrose throwing an extra man back was that it allowed our most creative player, Lochie Dickson, to roam across half-back un-impeded and this is not a great recipe for success against Norwood.   Time and again Lochie set up forward forays for Norwood; back to the drawing board for the opposition coaching strategists…  10 minutes in Pearso was rewarded a holding the ball after a brain-fade from a Montrose backman, initially selling some nice candy to Pearso in the back pocket then somehow forgetting he might get back again up and tackle him.  Half way through the quarter Lochie started a passage of play with an intercept mark then followed up 100m down the ground to be on the end of a chain of possession which saw him deliver a bullet on to the large chest of Trent Shinners 30m out.  There was no mistake from Trent.  Aver pushed up the ground approaching time-on, marked, and with space to work in even against two opponents Leigh won a free and slotted his 5h and our 11th.  Annoyingly, this would be Leigh’s last goal of the game when a big bag appeared likely.  Nevertheless, after a rare Montrose reply Zak Carroll laid a perfect tackle at CHF and duly slotted our 6th for the quarter and 12th for the game as we took a commanding 51 point lead to the big break, 12.5 – 4.2.

The 3rd quarter perhaps reminded us why we won’t play finals as we failed to find any system ,were beaten to the ball, lost the inside 50 count and just about every other stat that mattered in an ugly quarter where Montrose kicked two but it could have been more. Our only goal came late, when a poor kick-in saw Alex Grieve fly strongly, bring the ball to ground then follow up with his own crumb and snap truly for a terrific individual goal.  At 3/4T we led by 43 points. 13.7 – 6.6.

With Denis understandably upset and pointing to all sorts of red circles on the whiteboard which indicated how poor we had been the boys responded with a 5 goal to 1  last quarter which set the final margin at some sort of indicative measure of the gulf between the teams.  Zak started it with a quick left foot poke from close range after a scramble at the top of the goal square. Skave marked strongly on the wing and went in-board to Pearso 50m out.  To the delight of the Norwood faithful, Pearso, not known for his long-kicking delivered a booming  drop punt which comfortably cleared both the goalline and the fence to increase our lead.  Rej spotted up Trent 30m out on the boundary and his subsequent checkside was all class. Late on Lochie took a contest grab at half-forward and then somehow found no-one on the mark or corralling  him, so he ran his measure and scored a beauty from 45m.  It seemed the opposition had been hell-bent on leaving Lochie alone all day!! As the siren sounded Trent marked and executed a perfect drop punt from 45m for his 3rd and our 18th as we recorded a thumping 70 point win.

Finals scores:

Norwood 18.11.119 (Leroy 5, Trent 3, Zak 3, Pearso 2, Aver 2, Grieve, Fingers, Lochie) d Montrose 7.7.49

Lochie was this columnist’s choice as BOG after a classy display at half-back, taking full toll of Montrose allowing him to be loose behind play.  Blair Hudson had a ripping game across the middle, while from any forward forays by Montrose which weren’t rebounded by Lochie Jesse Newman and Stuey Hill were usually impassable.  Pearso Krousser and Rej rounded out the best players on a day when Norwood dominated across the ground.

So, with our finals hopes gone our attention turns to the development team and the Colts, who both scored thumping wins, which happily completed a very satisfying Wooders day away from home.  The Development team needs a win next week to ensure they play finals whilst the Colts need a win and a slightly unlikely loss from Blackburn to get the double chance.

Go Wooders