The Sandringham Zebras went down to North Melbourne in tough conditions at Arden Street Oval on Sunday.
Photography: Mark Woods
The Zebras had a solid showing in the first half matching the Kangaroos for inside-50s at half time before eventually losing the Round 7 Smithy’s VFL match by 64 points.
Marcus Windhager had a very strong performance in his first outing for the Zebras in 2023. The midfielder amassed a team high 27 disposals to go along with five tackles and a goal.
Another bright performer for the Zebras was debutant Tomoya Owens who battled hard all game and finished with eight disposals and an equal team-high five tackles. Owens narrowly missed a snap from the pocket in the final quarter but showed a lot of promise in his first game in yellow, black and blue.
Tyson Milne (21 disposals), Tom Highmore (26 disposals) and Fin Bayne (19 disposals) also had solid games in defence in trying conditions.
With the sun shining in the first quarter, Sandringham cracked in around the contest. Jack Billings sent the Zebras inside 50 for the first time in the game which resulted in a minor score for key position player Isaac Keeler.
Another Billings inside-50 minutes later was marked by Blake Watson who went back and nailed the set shot straight over the goal umpire’s hat.
Billings had yet another inside-50 in the first quarter which put the Kangaroos under pressure and resulted in a holding free kick for tall forward Noah Gown. Gown slotted the goal and brought his goal tally for this season to 12.
Gown’s second set shot moments later was struck well but fell just short and was touched on the line.
Despite a solid start, Sandringham couldn’t capitalise on the superior inside-50 count as they trailed by 20 points at the first break.
As the rain started to fall at the start of the second quarter it became hard to move the ball from one end to the other and convert chances. Lively forward Jack Peris applied great pressure to win a holding the ball free kick, with the resulting inside-50 aimed at Jake Lohmann who was unlucky not to be paid the mark.
Tom Campbell took two contested marks between the arcs in tough conditions to help the Zebras control the air. The ruckman finished the game with 15 disposals and 24 hit-outs in trying conditions for big men.
In his second game for the Zebras, Sam Latreille put in an outstanding effort at centre half back; coming from nowhere to spoil the ball, keeping his feet and pushing the ball forward before recovering to lay a strong tackle to lock the ball in and save a goal.
The Zebras continued to match the Kangaroos for inside-50s – both teams had 23 a piece – but were unable to limit the damage as the deficit increased to 36 points at half-time.
With the sun shining once again, the Zebras responded at the start of the third quarter. Milne sent the ball out wide to Peris who soccered it forward and, following repeat stoppages in the forward half, Leo Connolly’s bullet pass was marked by Windhanger who converted the goal and made it a great start to the quarter for Sandringham.
The Zebras continued to drive the ball inside-50 and peppered the goals in the third term, but as the rain started once again to make converting chances more difficult, Connolly, Campbell, Keeler, Billings and Max Heath could only manage minor scores.
Heading into the final quarter 38 points down, Sandringham managed to kick a goal after a transition from the defensive 50. Captain, Anthony Seaton collected the loose ball before shooting a handball to Vincent Zagari who found Heath in the middle of the ground. A chain of handballs ended up with Darby Hipwell on the half-forward line and he was able to find Jordan Segar who snapped truly.
Despite battling hard, we were unable to stop North Melbourne’s momentum and ultimately fell by 64 points.
The Zebras will look to bounce back when they take on Port Melbourne at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Mother’s Day this Sunday.
Final Score: Sandringham Zebras 4.10 (34) defeated by North Melbourne Kangaroos 14.16 (100)