SENIOR MATCH REPORT by David watson
While it was by no means pretty by any stretch of the imagination, Vermont delivered the necessary job required to sew up second place on the First Division ladder after defeating Norwood by 23 points at Mullum Reserve on Saturday.
The last time these two sides met back in round three marking the Eagles 1000th match in the Eastern Football League it was a match that went right down to the wire with the Eagles finally prevailing by a slender three points.
Fast forward to round 17 and this contest and the stakes had been raised with the Eagles fully aware that the hosts were going to be right up for a good old fashioned stoush looking to also lay claim to the double chance with finals football looming just around the corner.
Vermont welcomed back the hero of the round three battle Ash Froud after an extended period on the sidelines coming into the side for youngster Connor McCafferty.
Kicking with the breeze in the opening quarter the Eagles were rocked early by Norwood Full forward Leigh Williams.
The former Melbourne Rookie listed player kicked two early goals to really throw a spanner in the works.
At 197cm and weighing in at 95 kilograms Williams looked too big and strong for teenage defender Rory Lehmann.
But to Lehmann’s credit and with the assistance of partner in crime Dean Millhouse the early Williams onslaught that threatened to cause all sorts of headaches was effectively minimised in the impact finishing with four goals for the afternoon.
Despite being placed on the back foot the Eagles finally swung into gear in the first term kicking five unanswered goals through Justin van Unen (2), Nathan Henley, Shane Davidson and David Barton to take a 20 point lead into the quarter time break.
The hosts as predicted came out firing on all cylinders in the second quarter dominating at the centre clearances also gathering plenty of run out of defence who were repelling any forward forays.
Under the weight of pressure the Eagles held firm with Lachie Johns the sole goal kicker for the quarter as Norwood took a slender one point lead into the main break.
Knowing full well that the breeze had to be taken full advantage of the Eagles really squandered many opportunities in the third quarter.
Over use of the ball and equally poor delivery saw the Eagles kick 2.5 for the quarter with goals coming from Johns and Tom Schneider.
While holding Norwood to just one point to take a 15 point lead the question on most supporters’ minds was simply “is this enough”.
Big men Robbie Ross and Simon Taylor started to really make an impact on the contest in the final term and started to curve the impressive Troy Armstrong whom had certainly given the hosts the upper hand on many occasions throughout the course of the day.
Indeed Taylor was certainly inspirational nine minutes in to the final term when he took a flying mark and converted from 50 metres to really give the Eagles a spark.
Another spark was the returning Froud who despite being relatively quite during the afternoons proceedings chipped in with two clinical goals to help arrest the contest back into the Eagles favour.
With skipper Ryan Mullett leading from the front it was a sterling final term of Eagles pressure choking the home sides run kicking 4.4 to 3.2.
Vermont 5-3-(33) 6-4-(40) 8-9-(57) 12-13-(85) def Norwood 2-1-(13) 6-5-(41) 6-6-(42) 9-8-(62)
Vermont Goals: J.van Unen 2, A.Froud 2, L.Johns 2, N.Henley, S.Taylor, R.Mullett, T.Schneider, S.Davidson, D.Barton 1.
Vermont Best: (Watson’s choice) R.Mullett, T.Schneider, D.Millhouse, R.Ross, D.Mendes, S.Taylor.
Next Saturday Vermont round off the 2013 home and away season when they entertain Blackburn.