By TOBIE CHAPMAN
ESSENDON Doutta Stars has moved into the top four with a dominant win against Greenvale at Nipper Jordan Oval.
The 18.3 (111) to 10.8 (68) result is a significant boost to their finals chances and sends Greenvale down to fifth position.
Despite the muddy conditions the Stars piled on 11 goals to two in a blistering first half performance with the game all but over at the major break.
It was a tough start to the game as both sides struggled with the conditions. It was the Stars who adjusted quicker, led by the experience and class of Patrick Veszpremi off half back.
He was one of the few players on the ground able to keep the ball moving consistently.
Warning signs began to appear for the Jets midway through the term as Douttas began to wrest control of the game away, dominating possession and looking dangerous.
The Stars kicked the final three goals of the term to lead by 17 points, the highlight a classy checkside kick on the run from Alex Marklew.
Fabian Deluca was dominating the ruck battle for the Jets against Lachlan Ronaldson and Simon Clarke, but their midfield was struggling to capitalise.
The floodgates broke open early in the second term, Mitch Jensen’s mid-air soccer goal coming in the opening two minutes.
A defensive lapse from the usually reliable Matthew Smith, playing loose down back, allowed Clarke to take a nearly uncontested mark directly in front of goal.
To make matters worse, James Tzafaris then conceded 50 allowing Clarke to convert from the square.
Douttas first behind only came at the halfway mark of the term, having kicked nine goals straight to start the game.
They were also enjoying the rub of the green, the beneficiaries of a number of free kicks thanks to their hard attack on the footy and ability to consistently be first to the ball.
Indiscipline was creeping into Greenvale’s game as they conceded a number of 50-metre penalties in an embarrassing quarter for the finals contenders.
Shylo Smith benefited from one of these brain fades. While running in for a set shot a Greenvale defender inexplicably ran in from the side to concede a senseless 50-metre penalty.
The resulting goal sent Douttas ahead by 53 points before halftime.
Veszpremi’s role off half back continued to hurt the Jets, his defensive efforts were outstanding and his long kicking allowing his side to generate run.
Shylo Smith’s hard running and contested ability was pivotal through the midfield as well.
The third term saw the Jets finally show some fight, Matthew Smith’s swing forward paying off as he kicked the first three goals and soon Greenvale was facing a 27-point deficit.
Fort Caruso was at the forefront of Greenvale’s attack, finally seeing some reward from Deluca’s ruckwork.
Just as they began to threaten though, Shylo Smith stepped up.
A strong contested grab led to his second goal of the day, which he followed with his third quickly following some agile work at ground level from big man Cleve Hughes.
At the final break, despite a comfortable lead of 38 points, Dean Wallis directed Bruno Laguda to tag Caruso out of the game, and threw his strongest stoppage group into the midfield to try and kill off any challenge.
He reminded his side of their clash with the Jets back in Round 3 where Greenvale stormed home in the final term to win by 21 points, and urged his side to not let them back in.
With both sides tiring the game opened up in the final term.
The Jets were able to drag the margin back to 32 points but could get no closer, the sides trading goals for much of the quarter.
Matthew Smith took his tally out to six goals before Douttas sealed it with the final three majors for a 43-point victory.
Wins against Aberfeldie and Greenvale in the last two weeks have set the Stars up perfectly for a finals tilt, with games against Avondale Heights, Airport West and West Coburg to come in the next three weeks.
ESSENDON DOUTTA STARS | 18.3-111
Goal Kickers: C. Hughes 4, S. Smith 3, M. Jensen 3, A. Marklew 3, S. Clarke 2, D. Digiglio, A. Prestia, B. Laguda
Best Players: P. Veszpremi, S. Smith, T. Hartwig, P. Ntalianis, C. Hughes, M. Jensen
GREENVALE | 10.8-68
Goal Kickers: M. Smith 6, D. Sardo, N. Lower, T. Shinners, S. Zumbo
Best Players: M. Smith, F. Deluca, D. Micevski, S. Zumbo, F. Caruso, D. Trifunovic