The Cootamundra Blues have cemented top spot on the ladder after holding out a fast-finishing Goulburn Swans outfit at Clarke Oval on Saturday.
It was a game billed as the toughest test of the Blues’ season, however they were on the front foot as soon as Goulburn arrived and it was apparent the Swans were severlely undermanned.
The Blues won by 16 points; 17-13-115 to 15-9-99 despite losing the last quarter seven goals to two (their second goal for the quarter coming after the siren).
The swans had only 18 players available, on of their weakest sides of the season, therefore the match was played with 16 players each on the field.
Club spokesperson Pat Kerin noted a lesser number of players on the field, 32 rather than the usual 36, meant plenty of open spaces and suited the visitors’ style of play.
The scoreboard shows the Blues were always in charge of the match leading by 21 points at the first change, 34 points at the long break, and by the last change, and they seemed unbeatable with a 48 point buffer.
However, in the last quarter the Swans booted seven of the game’s eight goals to get them within 10 points with six minutes remaining.
Standout players were captain Phil Bird, who got through plenty of work around the ground.
His marking at pivotal moments was a feature of his consistent play, as noted by Kerin.
Again, on baller Dylan McDermott played strongly.
“His ability to read the play so well is so important as the Blues advance to the finals,” Kerin said.
In the centre, Haydn Slater played his best game of the season; his tackling and running was a strong feature of his play.
Sam Baldock played strongly in the ruck and is back to his best form, which saw him run fourth in last season’s Best and Fairest.
Joel Pearson was the bricks and mortar down back especially in the last quarter when the Blues were under the pump.
Goal kicking was again evenly shared with nine players collecting majors.
Brad Slater led the charge with four goals, Phil Bird and Sandy Maskell Knight three each Jimmy Finucane two and singles to Dylan McDermott, Stephen Chant, Jack Baldock, Blake Basham and Haydn Slater.
The Blues finally get an easier game on paper this weekend taking on last-placed Tuggeranong at Clarke Oval on Saturday; however nothing can ever be taken for granted in footy and they will need to be on their game to secure another win.