Werribee has slipped out of the top eight after a tough 71-point loss to traditional rival Williamstown at Burbank Oval on Sunday.
While a heavy defeat at the hands of the old enemy is always a bitter pill to swallow, it was the way things unravelled so quickly in the second half after a highly competitive opening that proved most disappointing for the Tigers.
When Josh Williams gathered a bouncing ball and ran into an open goal square to put through his first at the 14-minute mark of the third term, Werribee trailed by just five points and looked right in the hunt.
A five-goal opening quarter had been enough to offset a goalless second term kicking against the typically stiff Point Gellibrand breeze, and it seemed the Tigers might be ready to pounce again with the wind at their backs and spoil the party for Seagulls skipper Ben Jolley in his 250th VFL game.
Instead, Williamstown stunned the visitors to pile on 11 unanswered goals – six against the breeze – and run away with a comprehensive victory.
Werribee coach John Lamont made no effort to hide his disappointment at his side’s second-half performance.
“We were in the game at half time and still in the game at the middle of the third quarter, but then the opposition got right on top, were too strong around the ball, and generated more inside-50s, and we couldn’t stop them,” said Lamont.
“We had some blokes who did some good jobs on some key match-ups, but there was too much left to too few, and we’ve come away really disappointed with our second half.”
Lamont also acknowledged the quality of the opposition, which now finds itself at the top of the table on the back of six straight wins.
“They’re right up the top of the VFL ladder, Williamstown, and you can see why. They were really organised today.”
In yet another best-on-ground performance for the Tigers, Matthew Hanson again set the example in the middle to finish the day leading the team count for disposals (23), tackles (15), and clearances (nine), while Ethan Petterwood and Harrison King were also effective in their shutdown roles on Michael Gibbons and Jolley respectively.
Ryley Barrack was typically resolute in defence to finish with a team-high 10 marks, while Lindsay Thomas was important in setting the early tone for the Tigers up forward, his three first-quarter goals including a miracle bouncing snap from the pocket and a running goal from tight against the boundary on the forward flank.
With two rounds remaining, Werribee remains in the mix to play finals, though it is not entirely in control of its own destiny given it will be reliant on other results going its way.
At the very least, it needs to secure a win when it heads to Preston City Oval on Saturday to take on the Northern Blues, another side still hoping to feature in the September action.
Williamstown: 3.2 5.9 12.9 17.15 (117)
Werribee: 5.1 5.3 6.5 6.10 (46)
Williamstown: L. Schultz 3, B. Cavarra 3, S. Dunell 3, A. Marcon 2, A. Cordy 2, L. Masters 2, J. Pongracic, J. Pickess
Werribee: L. Thomas 3, J. Williams, J. Corbett, M. Hanson
Williamstown: W. Wheeler, A. Marcon, L. Schultz, L. Masters, J. Tippett, N. Meese
Werribee: M. Hanson, E. Petterwood, N. Buykx, H. King, B. McKay, R. Barrack