JOSH Schache sent a reminder of the talent that saw him drafted at No.2 in the 2015 NAB AFL National Draft with a six-goal haul as Footscray franked its VFL premiership favouritism, brushing aside fellow contender Geelong by 33 points at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.
The undefeated Bulldogs were rocked as a Cats’ team boasting 20 players who have been on an AFL list rattled on the first four goals in just 18 minutes, with Jordan Clark (two), Darcy Fort and Josh Jenkins proving more than a handful, while Charlie Constable continued to put together an impressive audition for AFL clubs.
But the Dogs worked their way back into the contest through Patrick Lipinski, who vied with Schache for best-on-ground honours, Riley Garcia and Ed Richards in his first game of the season, with only poor kicking for goal stopping them from running Geelong down quicker.
Footscray kicked 2.6 to 0.1 for the remainder of the first half, including Schache’s first at the 16-minute mark, to cut the margin to nine at the main break, before completely taking over in the third quarter.
Schache and Lipinski gave their team the lead and the spearhead added another four in the second half as the Bulldogs won the game going away to regain top spot.
Schache finished with 6.1 from 16 disposals and 14 marks in his best game for some time. Lipinski was unstoppable with 36 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three goals, while Garcia had 35 and Richards 27.
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was well held but got off the leash with two goals in time-on of the last term in his first game since a concussion in Round four.
Clark was outstanding for Geelong with 25 disposals, eight marks and three goals, Constable had another 33 touches, seven marks, seven tackles and six clearances and Rhys Stanley dominated the ruck with 23 disposals, six marks, 24 hitouts and a goal.
Mitch Cox turned in a blinder to lead Frankston back onto the winner’s list with a comfortable 28-point win over a gallant Northern Bullants at Skybus Stadium.
The classy midfielder pulled the tricks out of his bag as he stepped up in the absence of star midfielder Nathan Freeman, who was a late withdrawal with a minor leg concern, as well as Will Fordham, Anthony Brolic and Sam Fletcher.
Cox kicked a stunning dribble goal from the pocket in the first quarter and went on to land a bag of five that all had a touch of X-factor about them, while also racking up 29 disposals and five clearances.
He changed in the forward pocket with the similarly impressive Josh Begley, who played his best game since round one with 22 disposals, six clearances and three goals, while Connor Riley (25, one goal) and captain Josh Newman (30, one goal) were also impressive.
The Bullants looked switched on early, especially Jack Boyd, who kicked a goal from a free kick before the ball was bounced, added another in time-on and then stood on Max Williams’ head to pull down a grab that channelled Jeff Farmer at the MCG in 1998 – it will take a superhuman effort to beat it for mark of the year.
But the Bullants struggled to make any inroads on the scoreboard after Finbar O’Dwyer went down with a knee injury, despite the best efforts of skipper Tom Wilson (34 possessions, 12 marks), although Sunny Brazier performed well in his first game of the season and backmen Mutaz El Nour and Doug Lawrence tried hard to hold back the tide.
Frankston charged to a 50-point lead at three quarter-time but seemed to put the cue in the rack as the Bullants responded to a withering Josh Fraser spray – Jean-Luc Velissaris and debutant Nathan Honey kicking two goals each to cut the deficit to 25 with 20 minutes to play.
Begley’s third put paid to thoughts of a monumental comeback to break the Dolphins’ seven-match losing streak against the Bullants/Blues since 2016 and secure only their second win in their past 17 contests.
But the visitors kept coming in a last quarter that yielded five goals to one and showed themselves to be capable of doing damage if anyone takes them easy.
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