Sandringham had a strong performance over the Coburg Lions under the lights at RSEA Park.
Photography: Mark Woods
The Sandringham Zebras played in the Sir Doug Nicholls round over the weekend to celebrate, acknowledge and thank Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, umpires, fans, volunteers and administrators, both past and present, for their contributions to our game and the football community.
The Zebras came away with the four points after a mighty team effort and strong individual performances pulled us over the line. Tyson Milne finished the day with 31 disposals, with Saints-listed Marcus Windhager not far in front of him, collecting 37 disposals and one goal for the Zebras. Saints-listed Tom Campbell and Max Heath had strong performances up forward, kicking two goals and hanging onto six marks each, whilst young emerging key forward Issac Keeler finished with three majors for the evening. Sandringham's Darby Hipwell and Sam Latreille played an important role, also sneaking two goals in to seal the deal for Sandringham. Vincent Zagari pulled out his strongest performance for the Zebs yet, gathering 26 touches.
Sandringham came out fast and fiery straight away with the speed of Jack Peris looking to set something up inside 50. Heath managed to get his hands on the ball in a strong contest, but couldn't hold on, then was penalised for diving on the ball, and Coburg were looking to maintain possession early.
After some back-and-forth ball use, a long kick from Milne on the wing to Heath proved vital as he held on in a four-on-one contest converting the first major of the evening. Peris looked dangerous around the forward line with a snap on goal that narrowly missed for a minor score.
A super impressive passage of play in the centre of the ground involved Campbell, Tomo Owens and Jordy Segar, leading to our second goal through a snap from Latreille. Then, after another excellent passage of play from the Zebras involving Milne, Oliver Lowe and Windhager, Keeler managed to get his hands on the ball for a shot at goal deep in the right pocket. His kick looked good off the boot as he split the middle for his first major of the night.
The first quarter was dominated by Sandringham, who kept Coburg to one point.
The second quarter started much the same as the first. The Zebs were fast out of the middle, with ball users in Will Dunne and Windhager looking impressive. Jack Bytel, Peris and Windhager all looked very composed in a handball chain that led to Jack Billings taking possession inside 50. Billings had a left foot kick at goal, which looked to go in, but Keeler was on the line and turned the goal into a certainty kicking through on the line.
After the next ball up, Dunne ended up with possession off half-back. With a quick kick to Milne, the Zebras were looking to find something. After Milne kicked, he was hit off the ball, and the Zebs were awarded a downfield free kick which led to Keeler converting for his third of the night.
After giving the Zebras an easy shot on goal, Coburg were looking to close the gap and got their first major.
The next bounce saw Sandringham kick long out of the centre into our forward 50. Coburg's defence was up, getting the ball out fast, but the excellent ball read from Dunne saw Coburg's ball turned over. With Dunne's kick back in the forward 50, Campbell was unopposed and marked the ball, taking a shot on goal which missed to the left.
Captain Anthony Seaton stood up and showed his leadership down back, getting the Zebs out of trouble anytime he could. He pushed up the ground to help out and found a target in Lowe, who kicked right through the middle and rewarded the Zebs with another goal.
Coburg managed to kick two more majors before halftime, but the Zebras still held the lead by 18 points.
Again the Zebras came out firing, with Campbell's experience in the ruck winning the hit-out to Windhager, who then received a free for high contact. Coburg's mistakes were starting to hurt them, with Windhager then receiving a 50-metre penalty as the ball was handed back to the wrong player, converting to a goal for the Zebras early.
At the next bounce, Coburg fired up through the middle, winning the clearance, and as the ball was kicked to their forward line, they earned themselves a free, answering straight back and kicking a major.
Speedy Peris was slick through the middle with a lightning kick to St Kilda veteran Tim Membrey who delivered deep to Latreille, running towards an open goal, kicking his second.
Coburg was starting to rev up at this point, with a passage of hand passes through the corridor that led them to another goal. Oscar Adams showed his speed as he ran towards the ball and managed to punch and try to kill it just as it was over the line.
Sandringham was not looking to give anything away at the next bounce, winning the clearance and locking the football in our scoring half. The Zeb's pressure was elite, forcing Coburg to fumble. Milne's composure and ball read were also elite as he looked up, slowed and chipped a kick to Heath. However, despite the Zebras' composure, Heath's kick didn't quite make the distance.
We had a few chances to extend our lead but inaccuracy on goal stopped us from doing so. Coburg eventually succeeded in getting the ball out of the Zebras' forward line, but it was soon turned over, and we were on. With our speed, we managed to get the ball to Membrey, who used his knowledge to stay deep. He ran into an open goal and extended the Zebs' lead by 22 points just before the siren.
As we had done all day, we started the quarter red hot, winning the clearance and dominating stoppages. Windhager had a quick kick inside 50, where Hipwell picked up and snapped at goal, kicking off the last term with a bang.
Campbell's ruck work and Windhager's tenacity at the bounce won the football for the Zebs early again, with Windhager working hard to win the football and clean disposal, the opportunity was created for Peris to again use his speed to get forward to Heath, who lined up and kicked his second for the night.
Sandringham wanted to win this one, and you could see it in our ball control. We used our spread well to get out of trouble and regain control when needed. In doing this and keeping composed, Campbell rose in a contest, took the mark and kicked another major for the Zebs.
The game started getting scrappy as Coburg stepped their defensive pressure up, with Sandy trying to lock down our half. However, Hipwell managed to run in, pick up and snap around his body at goal, putting Sandringham up by 45 points.
Seaton was mesmerising in a passage, managing to smother a kick, get the ball back, handball it off, receive it back, shake a tackle and kick towards Campbell at the top of the goal square, who converted in a massive reward for Seaton's efforts.
Shortly after, the Zebs showed no signs of slowing down, with Milne selling some candy on the mark and kicking towards Membrey in a contest, who hand passed over his back to a running Billings who ran in and kicked another major.
Sandringham managed to blitz and kick six goals in the last quarter to put us back on the winner's list.