Norwood made the trek to the unfriendly surrounds of Balwyn Park for Rd 7 action and returned empty handed, unable to match it with the home team and going down by 41 points.

Balwyn have been the powerhouse of the competition for a long time, their 4 flags in the last 5 years broken only by our own very memorable success in 2014. They had begun the year slowly, like us, but rumours of their demise are largely false as they still boasted 17 of last year’s premiership team in the squad – plus 2 x Simpkin brothers as well. With this squad up and running and looking largely fit and healthy, it was always going to be difficult for us to mount a challenge, and so it proved. We were largely uncompetitive in the first quarter, giving up a mountain of inside 50s to Balwyn, also allowing Shane Cross to run around with his own footy, and by quarter time we were looking down the barrel trailling 1.0 – 2.4. In truth in general play Balwyn should have been further in front. The 2nd quarter brought more of the same, though thankfully Dennis’ plea to the team to put a clamp on Cross appeared to have been heeded. Still, Balwyn’s, run overlap and extremely slick movement by hand and foot was causing us all sorts of problems. If not for some wayward goalkicking on their behalf, combined with some stellar defensive work from Matt Aver Jesse Newman Matt Pearson and Adam Gibson, the game would have been over very early. 20 minutes in to the quarter we trailed by 19 points and had kicked just 2 goals for the game. For the last 10 minutes of the quarter however, a change came over the game as we began to win definitive clearances through the ruckwork of big Knoll. Twice he fed Fingers who delivered to Ace at half-forward. The ball found its way forward where Leroy marked and goalled, then again where Leroy split a pack allowing Gouldy to pick up a quality front and centre goal. Trent Shinners, playing way up the ground – due largely to the ball spending loads of time in the Balwyn forward line, added his 2nd goal as we remarkably squared things up by the half-time siren: 5.2 – 4.8. The difference in scoring shots seemed not to matter, but later on it would reveal a telling story.

Early in the 3rd we continued to do most of the attacking, but could not make the most of a bevy of sorties inside 50. In fact we would kick just 11 for the quarter, the goal coming from Alex Grieve who hunted a loose ball down and slammed one through from 20m. But the game began to revert to the 1st quarter as Balwyn’s mid-field dominance and slick transition from defence to attack resumed. If you allow this team to play the game on their own terms, they can quickly kill you and this is what happened. Too often they were able to transition from deep in defence to the other side of the ground and sweep the ball away with run and overlap that we could not match. Eventually, despite our defensive efforts, goals would have to come and they did, our chances in the game slipping away as Balwyn piled on 5 goals to take a 26 point lead into the last break. 6.3. – 9.11

Any chance we had would rely on quick early goals. We broke free from the very first bounce but a handball instead of a kick saw us run down, this passage of play pretty much mirroring our entire day. Balwyn resumed control and kicked as many goals as they needed as the game reached its inevitable conclusion. By games end it was 29 shots to 13, a harsh but fair reflection on the home team’s dominance on the day.

Final Scores Norwood 9.4.58(Leroy 3 Shinners 2, Gould, Hudson, Poynton, Grieve) def by Balwyn 14.1599

Best players on the day were unsurprisingly mostly in defence. Aver and Newman did their customary quality jobs on the Balwyn key forwards Goebbels and Barker, while Pearson and Gibson also helped keep the tsunami of Balwyn football coming at them at bay for the most part. Blair Hudson, entrusted with the kick in duties, did a good job down back as well, but our mids lowered their colours and our forwards were starved of supply, though Trent Shinners played his best game in a Norwood jumper as a high (at times very high!) half-forward…

There is no time to dwell on the loss however, as we have to dust ourselves off and face unbeaten ladder leaders Vermont at Mullum Reserve on Saturday. To be a threat this year we need a scalp, and this is as good a scalp as there is….

In other news the Colts had a rampaging win by 110 points while the Development squad trailed all day to winless Balwyn before kicking the last couple of goals of the day to happily squeak out with a 9 point win.

Go Wooders