Werribee overcame a sluggish start to stage a remarkable comeback victory against Collingwood on Saturday, erasing a 47-point second-quarter deficit to run out 11-point winners at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval.
Coming off three straight losses, the less-fancied Pies stunned the Tigers in the opening term, piling on seven unanswered goals to quarter time before opening with the first after the break.
But when Cameron Zurhaar finally opened Werribee’s account at the eight-minute mark of the second term, it proved the catalyst for a huge momentum shift.
The Tigers then sprung to life, kicking six of the next eight goals to half time to cut the margin to 18 points before a six-goal-to-one third term saw them eight points clear at the final change.
Coach John Lamont put the challenge to the troops at the first change and was thrilled with the response, but he conceded his side will need to be much more switched on from the first bounce going forward.
“We just spoke about increasing our pressure, getting busier around the contest, and being a bit smarter with our ball movement – all the things we’d spoken about before the game but didn’t probably execute at the level we would have liked,” Lamont said of the quarter-time address.
“The boys really responded, and we had the lead by three-quarter time.
“In quarters two to four, we were outstanding, so we’ve just got to work on our starts and be a bit more consistent in making sure we don’t have to play catch-up footy. We were successful today, but it won’t always be the case, so there’s plenty to work on.”
Having enjoyed a strong start to the season, Ryley Barack was again resolute in defence, collecting 17 disposals, taking six marks, and playing a key role in setting up a number of crucial goals to finish as his side’s best.
A late withdrawal from last week’s game against Casey, Andrew Swallow was a welcome return inclusion and proved typically industrious at the coalface to finish with a team-high 31 possessions, while Tom Gribble was again busy with 27 touches.
Coming off a best-on-ground performance, Matthew Hanson was right back in the thick of things in the middle, producing a team-high nine clearances from his 23 disposals and providing relentless pressure with a team-high nine tackles.
With Werribee having turned north east Victoria and the Riverina into something of a recruiting zone in recent years, the match in Wangaratta provided a rare opportunity for Tigers from the region to play in front of a home crowd, and they didn’t disappoint.
Former Albury Tiger Matt Munro was at his lively best up forward, providing plenty of dash and finishing with two goals from his 15 disposals, while one-time Lavington Panther Nick Meredith did well to contain Collingwood big man Mason Cox after quarter time and lead his side’s marking count with nine.
Murray Bushrangers recruit Louis Pinnuck returned to his old stomping ground and was solid in his debut as Werribee’s 23rd man.
The win gives the Tigers three on the trot to put them inside the eight for the first time this season and leave them in the black at 3-2.
A big weekend on the road had the Werribee faithful fronting up at Box Hill City Oval at 9am on Sunday to see the development side go down to the Box Hill Hawks by 54 points.
A strong opening half had the Tigers trailing by 15 points at the main break before the Hawks took control with nine goals to three through the second half.
Despite the scoreline, there were a number of pleasing signs for Werribee. Joe Maishman continued his strong form through the middle, Harrison King impressed up forward and on the ball in his return from a hamstring complaint, and Aiden Adams and Jake Marshall both performed strongly in their first games back from long-term injury layoffs.
Werribee’s VFL side will be looking to build on its momentum when it heads to Eureka Stadium on Saturday to take on the winless North Ballarat, while the development side tackles Williamstown earlier in the day at Burbank Oval.
Peter Jackson VFL
Werribee: 0.2 7.4 13.6 17.10 (112)
Collingwood: 7.1 10.4 11.10 15.11 (101)
Goals: Matthew Munro, Jordan Jones, Jason Robinson, Josh Williams, Nick Larkey, Cameron Zurhaar, Tom Ellard 2, Michael Sodomaco, Tom Gribble, Matthew Hanson
Best: Ryley Barrack, Andrew Swallow, Matthew Hanson, Matthew Munro, Mitchell Hibberd, Nick Buykx
AFL Victoria Development League
Box Hill Hawks: 4.5 8.6 12.10 17.15 (117)
Werribee: 3.0 6.3 7.7 9.9 (63)
Goals: Jackson Menadue, Matthew Brett 2, Anthony Liberatore, Jordyn Cotter, Ben Jacobs, Billy Iles, Spiros Amarantidis
Best: Joe Maishman, Ben Jacobs, Harrison King, Dominic Brew, Duom Dawam, Dane McFarlane