SPOTSWOOD OVERRUN SPIRITED SUNSHINE
By NICK BOYLAN
After a gruelling pre-season, the RAMS Division 1 season got underway on Saturday, with several contenders scoring large wins to begin their premiership campaigns.
Spotswood hosted Sunshine in an engaging contest that saw the home side eventually run out 37-point winners, not before being made to work for it by the Kangaroos.
With a heavy breeze pulling across the ground and towards the Sunshine scoring end, the Kangaroos couldn’t exploit the conditions, leaving Spotswood to gain midfield ascendency early. Fortunately for Sunshine, the home team couldn’t capitalise on the scoreboard despite strong running from captain David Iaccarino, with the wind a factor in Spotswood’s inaccuracy.
Sunshine were more accurate early, carrying a five-point lead into the first change, where their coach Adam Contessa demanded more work rate from his forwards. Pleased with his side’s 21 first quarter tackles, Contessa’s focus was more on quicker ball movement, urging his team to “shift it off the lines and get the ball inside”.
Sunshine came out looking to do just that, with ruckman Declan Moloney making an impact with his clearance work. While the Kangaroos were intent on bring the ball inside, poor disposal led to turnovers in dangerous parts of the ground, allowing Spotswood to goal from range via their strong breeze.
Charlie Nastasi’s move from the goal square to around the ball was impactful, joining Iaccarino’s explosive running to help pour on an eight goal to three quarter, giving Spotswood a 27-point lead at half-time.
Sunshine emerged from the main change like a different team, with Fabian Brancatisano driving the Kangaroos forward and Cam Holdsworth doing the damage on the scoreboard. Sunshine looked like running away with the game, but Spotswood fought back to control the last part of the quarter to have an 18-point lead at the final change.
Spotswood’s dominance around the ball continued into the last quarter, overrunning the Kangaroos, and finishing with a strong Round 1 win. Sunshine will look to bounce back as they host reigning premiers Deer Park next weekend.
Elsewhere, Deer Park unveiled their 2018 Premiership flag with a dominant 78-point win over Caroline Springs, with Tim Quick and Shannon Byrnes strong for the reigning premiers. Caroline Springs will hope to rebound when they take on newly promoted Point Cook next Saturday.
St Albans welcomed Point Cook to Division 1 and kicked away with a 92-point win, with a balanced scoring effort highlighting the impressive performance from the Saints.
In a replay of last year’s exciting preliminary final, Altona bounced back from their tough loss against Hoppers Crossing, to record a strong 23-point win. The injury-hit Warriors will look for a win when they travel to St Albans next round.
Finally, Werribee Districts were too strong for Albion, running away with a dominant 188-point win, led by six-goals haul from Andrew Panayi and Oscar Junker.
Next week, Albion will look to rally when they host Spotswood, while Werribee Districts will have a tough battle as they visit Altona, in one of the games of the round.