Sandringham: 3.4 6.8 9.10 11.12 (78)
Essendon: 1.3 1.4 6.5 10.11 (71)
Sandringham: Minchington 4, McCartin 2, Marshall 2, Wright 2, Sinclair
Essendon: Mckernan 2, Merrett 2, Begley, Peters, Stewart, Younan
Sandringham: Minchington, Stevens, Longer, Connellan, Sinclair, Weickhardt
Essendon: Luxford, Hocking, Francis, Hind, O'Brien, Bellchambers
By Avi Chandra
The Sandringham Zebras came away with a hard fought win the opening contest of their 2017 VFL campaign at Trevor Barker Oval on Saturday.
After a very bright start to the contest, the Zebras had to fight off a late charge by Essendon, ultimately winning the contest 78-71.
Sandringham started the game with an aggressive tempo, taking the game right to Essendon, overwhelming them and running out a 20-point lead early in the first quarter.
The match early on in the first quarter was dictated by the Zebras midfield, which stood tall even with captain and leader Tom Curren missing, a late exclusion from the team on the day.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern to the first with the Zebras taking a 44-10 lead into the sheds at half time. Sandringham’s constant bombardment of the Essendon backline was causing headaches for the away side as the Zebras entered their attacking 50 on 18 more occasions then Essendon, with only 3 for the quarter.
St Kilda listed players Darren Minchington and Nick O’Kearney lead the way for Sandringham in the first half, Minchington kicking 3 goals with 14 disposals while O’Kearney lead the way with 19 disposals to round out the half.
The tide began to shift in the second half however, with Essendon beginning to win first ball in the midfield and put pressure on the Sandringham defence as the Zebras were slow out of the blocks in the third quarter.
After only scoring 10 points in the first half, Essendon managed 5 goals to Sandringham’s 3 in the 3rd quarter, taking the score to 64-41 heading into the last quarter.
As the 4th quarter began, all the momentum sat with the Bombers as they kicked a quick 2 goals in the opening 5 minutes, bringing the deficit to single digits with plenty of time left on the clock.
Both teams were hard at the footy in a back and forth final term; however it proved to be Minchington’s day as he kicked his fourth goal which ultimately sealed the deal for the Zebras.
Minchington proved to be Sandringham’s best on ground, finishing with 4 goals and 28 disposals, paving the way for Sandringham’s opening 4 points of the season.
After a great start to the match, the Zebras will be very relieved to come away with their first win after a solid first up performance, still leaving plenty of room for improvement in upcoming weeks.
They’ll look to build on this positive start to the season when they take on Richmond at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Saturday the 22nd of April.
Earlier in the day, the development squad fought hard but lost to the Box Hill Hawks, with scores reading as: 13.13 91 – 10.19 69.
The Zebras carried a 3 point lead heading into the final term but were unfortunately overrun by a fast finishing Hawks. There were plenty of positives to take away from Owen Lalor’s first game in charge as coach as they look to get off the mark next weekend against Werribee at TBBO