By Nathan Lay
Sandringham’s 2017 preparation got off to a sour note, going down to Northern Blues by 11 points at Linen House Centre on Saturday.
In scorching conditions at St Kilda’s Seaford base, the Zebras surrendered a quarter time lead to kick a wayward 4.13 post-first change in the club’s first pre-season hit-out.
Their woes were compounded by a knee injury to Saints rookie Nick O’Kearney mid-way through the second quarter.
While ruled out for the remainder of the morning, an early prognosis points to O’Kearney avoiding the dreaded ACL injury when his knee gave way in a tackle.
With eight new faces, Sandringham got off to a fast start – booting four of the game’s first five goals in a show of electrifying pace and ball movement.
Rowan Marshall and Josh Battle worked in tandem as Sandringham’s twin towers up forward, while Tom Curren led a young midfield brigade with Myke Cook watching from the sidelines.
Last season’s forward sensation Joe Fisscher played behind the ball, applying his pack crashing abilities to the defensive 50.
New Zebras recruit Callum Cathcart got the scoreboard rolling for 2017 with a free kick and 50 metre penalty goal, while Marshall utilised his 201cm frame to impress with two first quarter goals.
However, Northern Blues nullified Sandringham’s quick movement in the second quarter to turn a 15-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Slowing the Zebras down, Northern locked the ball inside their forward half of the ground. Kyle Lebois was causing headaches for Sandringham with two second term goals, while Kristian Jaksch was a presence up forward.
Inaccuracy hampered any Sandringham comeback attempts in the third, booting just 1.3 to the Blues’ 5.3.
With the stifling heat taking a toll, Sandringham began to work the ball inside 50 with greater ease – but the struggles to convert into scores remained consistent.
Hitting the pack hard and showing a turn of foot, boom recruit Beau Bailey kicked two final quarter goals to finish with three in an impressive debut for the club.
However, it was all too late as the Blues held on for victory.
Sandringham’s preparation continues next Saturday with another Linen House Centre hit-out against last year’s semi-final foes Williamstown.
Sandringham 4.3 5.6 6.9 8.14 (62)
Northern Blues 1.6 5.8 10.11 10.13 (73)
GOALS: Marshall 3, Bailey 3, Cathcart, Iudica