Frankston too strong for Zebras in wet and slippery conditions
Zebras fought until the end against the Dolphins but ultimately fell 26 points short at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday.
Photography: Mark Woods
A dominant opening term for the Zebras wasn’t enough to hold off the Dolphins in tough conditions at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday, as Frankston picked up their first win of the season.
Noah Gown continued his solid start to the season with three majors, and AFL-listed Jack Peris bagged two for himself. At the other end of the ground, it was Tyson Milne, and AFL-listed players James Van Es and Tom Highmore that were strong down back all day. Max Heath had a good day out in the ruck with 32 hit outs and 10 tackles to keep the pressure on the Dolphins in the absence of Tom Campbell.
It was Jordy Segar who got the scoreboard ticking over with a clever crumb inside 50 and snap around his body from close range, followed by Peris who also snapped truly from distance to give the Zebras a nice early buffer.
The pressure was great all around the ground from the Sandringham players as they laid tackle after tackle in the early winter weather to keep the Dolphins on edge. This was especially displayed through Heath and Jake Lohmann who had seven tackles between them in the first term.
The Zebras were dominant down back early, as they held the Dolphins scoreless in the first quarter with their desperate spoils and tackles to keep Frankston thinking. Blake Watson and Highmore set the tone in this area as Frankston struggled to break through the Zebras' brick wall in defence.
The first term was capped off with a brilliant specky at half back from Gown, who soared high above his opponent to bring down a great mark.
The second quarter was a different story as the rain cleared and the skills from both sides were cleaned up. Frankston were the team to make the most of this as they piled on five goals to zero in the term.
With the scores tied midway through the quarter, it was Riley Virtue who tried lifting his team with a great run inside 50, but his shot on goal hit the woodwork for a behind.
With the wind favouring Frankston the ball spent the majority of the term in our defensive half, but it was the likes of Mason Hawkins, Milne, and Highmore that kept propelling the ball out to ease the pressure.
We entered half time down by 21 and with a bit to work on, but our Head Coach, Jake Batchelor, was clear on his instructions for the second half, urging his players to continue to compete and attack when necessary.
This was exemplified in the early stages of the third quarter as AFL-listed players Tim Membrey and Peris upped their forward pressure to win respective free kicks and set the tone for their teammates to lift with them.
The Zebras kicked the first three majors of the second half through Peris, Gown, and an unlikely goalkicker in Highmore from a 50m penalty, to bring the margin back to one point, as our pressure and intensity around the ball increased.
However, Frankston regained the momentum through a couple of quick goals, but our defenders never let up to ensure that we were still within striking distance at three quarter time. This was epitomised through the terrific defensive acts of Hawkins, Van Es, and Highmore who continued their aerial dominance.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins got away to a fast start, kicking the opening three goals of the term to make it tough for the Zebras to muster a comeback.
Despite this, the boys stuck fat to peg two goals back to give themselves a sniff, with unrelenting pressure from the boys, foremost in big Heath, who laid 10 tackles for the match, closely followed by Darby Hipwell, Lohmann, and Vince Zagari, all with nine.
The commentators described Highmore as the ‘rock of Gibraltar’ for his solid defensive efforts throughout the course of the game for the Zebras, paired with AFL-listed key defenders Oscar Adams and Van Es. Fin Bayne led the way with 22 disposals, and Highmore reached 21 - the only two players to reach 20 touches for Sandringham.
The final siren sounded with the Dolphins running away 26-point winners over the Zebras at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Final Score: Sandringham Zebras 8.8 (56) defeated by Frankston Dolphins 12.10 (82)
Goals: N. Gown (3), J. Peris (2), T. Highmore, J. Segar, B. Watson