By RORY O’NEILL
HILLSIDE and Westmeadows clashed for a potential finals spot at Hillside Recreation Reserve.
The home team started well, with accurate passing inside 50.
A highlight for the Tigers was a brilliant speccy taken by lightweight Brock Heathcote, which brought a roar from the crowd.
Westmeadows finished the quarter strongly, kicking the last two goals, including one right on the siren. At quarter time, the Sharks led narrowly 4.1.25 to the visitors 3.1.19.
The second term was a good, hard contest. Hillside’s Jackson Volpato was active on the wing, until covered later in the quarter by Westmeadows’ Billy Allouch.
Despite several shots on goal, the Sharks were unable to convert, whereas at the other end, goals to Cody Wight and Jarrod Fenton meant the Tigers led by a nose at the main break, 5.2-32 to the inaccurate Sharks 4.7-31.
Westmeadows moved Adam Turner into defence in the third quarter and applied 31 tackles for the term.
The ruck duel between the Sharks’ Mahmoud Taleb and the Tigers’ Andrew Vavra was a feature of the quarter, and an old fashioned shirtfront applied by Hillside strong man David Zammitt delighted the home crowd.
Both teams still struggled to score goals, with only Luke Wilson able to convert, kicking two of his three goals for the match.
Jake Bertollo broke the drought for the Sharks, but they still trailed by nine points at three-quarter time, 7.7-49 to 5.10-40.
The visitors moved Turner back up front, and he proved to be lively but inaccurate.
There were many desperate efforts and gang tackles, as well as skill errors, including one occasion where three Hillside defenders all went for the same ball without success.
The quarter was tight, frantic, desperate and tough, the epitome of EDFL football.
Westmeadows managed only four behinds, whilst Hillside kicked 2.3 to run away narrow victors, 7.13-55 to 7.11-53.
An emotional Steve Burns was pleased that his players “stayed in the game”, and he feels that his team has developed a “thicker skin” than last year.
He recognises that for the rest of the season each game will be tough, and that Oak Park and Tullamarine are in the same boat.
Losing coach David Connell praised Hillside’s game, but recognised that his own team had seven of their best out and had other players carrying injuries.
He is pleased that he has been able to give some Under 18 players experience this year, but they have lost four games, three by less than six points.
He hopes that if the finals are tight, his team may find themselves on the positive part of the ledger.
HILLSIDE | 7.13-55
Best: R. Gashi, S. Nason, J. Bonnici, J. Volpato, J. Hayes, M. Micallef
Goals: M. Taleb 2, V. Micallef 2, J. Sinclair, J. Bertollo, T. Stone
WESTMEADOWS | 7.11-53
Best: C. Campbell, T. Abdallah, J. Fenton, A. Evans, K. North, A. Turner, B. Allouch
Goals: L. Wilson 3, D. Callegari, J. Fenton, A. Evans, K. North, A. Turner