A BLISTERING second-quarter burst from former Essendon forward Josh Begley christened Frankston’s new lights in style as the Dolphins overran Coburg by 30 points in a free-flowing 2021 VFL Premiership season opener at Skybus Stadium last night.
Begley kicked six goals straight to help the Dolphins overcome a 22-point deficit to win 20.6 (126) to 14.12 (96) in the battle of the 2019 cellar dwellers.
The victory saw Frankston match the solitary win it recorded in 2019 and gives it a golden opportunity to enjoy a flying start to the season with clashes against North Melbourne (away) and Aspley (home) to come in the next two weeks.
The Lions have also improved significantly and will trouble plenty of teams this season, but the night could have disastrous consequences, with No.1 ruckman Adam Swierzbiolek being taken to hospital with what looked to be a serious shin injury in the third quarter.
Frankston kicked two goals in the opening three minutes of the game to get a flying start, but Coburg dominated the remainder of the first quarter as Marcus Lentini racked up possessions at will, Richmond recruits Jacob Ballard and Tom Silvestro (22 disposals each) drove the ball forward and Mitch Podhajski kicked three excellent goals.
When Sam Lowson kicked the first of his two goals, the Lions led by 22 points just 30 seconds into the second quarter, but then Begley flipped the game on its head.
He booted four majors for the term to have five by half-time, with Frankston kicking eight for the quarter to build a 21-point gap at the break.
Two more to start the third quarter gave the Dolphins eight in a row, and while Coburg stuck with the home team for the rest of the night, the damage was done.
Star midfielder Nathan Freeman sparked the turnaround, racking up 38 disposals in a near best-on-ground display, while captain Josh Newman was outstanding with 28 touches, eight marks and two goals.
Lentini was his usual prolific self for Coburg, compiling a stunning 39 possessions, five tackles and a goal to again put his name forward to AFL clubs for the mid-season draft, while debutant Josh D’Intinosante bobbed up to kicked three goals, Jesse Corigliano provided drive from defence and Nathan Mullenger-McHugh competed hard in the ruck.
Earlier in the day, Richmond kicked off its premiership defence with a convincing 40-point dismissal of Sandringham at the Swinburne Centre.
The Tigers only led by four points at quarter-time, but a six-goal second quarter broke the game open in the 13.17 (95) to 7.13 (55) victory.
Callum Coleman-Jones was best on ground with 22 disposals, 11 marks and two goals in his first game back from suspension, while Patrick Naish (32), Jack Ross (30), Riley Collier-Dawkins (30) and Wangaratta recruit Brad Melville (28) won plenty of the ball.
Shaun McKernan was easily the Zebras’ best player, dominating in the air and finishing with 4.2 from 23 disposals and 10 marks, but it was a lone hand as Richmond cruised home.
Young Zebra Oscar Lewis faces a nervous wait after being reported for an alleged incident involving Melville in the final quarter.
Friday April 16
RICHMOND 13.17 (95)
SANDRINGHAM 7.13 (55)
FRANKSTON 20.6 (126)
COBURG 14.12 (96)