Division 1 coach Terry Attwood punted on attack over defence last weekend when the Castlemaine Goldfields men took on Warrnambool on neutral ground at Morshead Park in Ballarat.
Coach Attwood shifted outstanding goalkeeper Brendan Connelly into the striker’s position in the hope that his strength, speed and skill would provide the team with more goals.
Division 2 goalkeeper Julien “Jules” Whitcroft-McGlade was promoted to fill the goalkeeping gap.
The bold move was partially successful. Brendan scored once at the end of a trademark bulldozing run, rattled the crossbar with another long-range shot and generally kept the well-organised Warrnambool defence on guard.
Unfortunately, Castlemaine could have played both Brendan and Jules in goal together and still not stemmed the flow of Warrnambool goals so fierce was the flood of shots at the other end of the pitch.
A series of clever free kicks over and around the Maine defensive wall resulted in goals, as did some well-placed long shots, some defensive errors and adept poaching.
In an impressive display of endurance, skill, determination and organization, Warrnambool turned a 5-1 half-time lead into a 9-1 full-time win despite the fact that many of their squad had also played the Division 2 game beforehand.
Ably lead by the four van Rooy brothers, Warrnambool was simply too strong despite the hard work of Jono Burris and Angus Maclaurin in midfield, winger Taro Muller, and defenders Steve “Rhino” Marsh, Oscar Wood, Joe Gingell and Paul Hovius, the latter a welcome inclusion for his first game of the season.
The Division 2 men shared a fate similar to the firsts. After a relatively even first half in which Warrnambool took full toll of one defensive error and created another goal with exceptional teamwork, the Castlemaine defence came under increasing pressure.
Fielding eight players who went on to play in the Division 1 game, the quick, strong and skillful Warrnambool squad took over late in the match to ram home five more goals for a convincing 7-0 win.
As ever, Maine midfielder Dean Nendick battled manfully, along with captain Jim Kourkoulakos, hard-running Sam Doolan and left and right-backs Nathaniel Muller and Chris Wilson.