VFL: Zebras tread on Roosters in Ballarat

SANDRINGHAM   2.3  10.6  11.9  18.9 (117)

NORTH BALLARAT  3.1  4.2  8.8  12.10 (82)

GOALS - Sandringham: Dennis-Lane 4 Weller 3 Zijai 2 Milera 2 Markworth 2 Dunell 2 Siposs 2 Longer. North Ballarat: Keeble 3 Horbury 2 Searl 2 Staley  Wilkins  Peters  Rippon  Lockyer.

BEST – Sandringham: Weller Shenton Cockie Zijai Dennis-Lane Fisher. North Ballarat: Dumont Rippon Kiel Austin Horbury Wallace.

Post-match, North Ballarat Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald told players their best football was fantastic football.

But the gap to their worst was too vast after a third-straight Victorian Football League loss,this time to Sandringham at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.

Players were sent into problem-solving mode, encouraged to immediately brain-storm ways they could bridge the gap.

Sandringham heaped on a 35-point win, kicking seven goals straight to the Selkirk Roosters' 4.2 in an evenly contested final term. 

The Roosters have proven they are close to competition leaders after tight bouts with Collingwood and Essendon in opening rounds and this match they showed great fighting spirit against the Zebras, who last week drew reigning premier Box Hill Hawks.

A second-quarter blow-out was their downfall. It was a big blow-out, too.

The Zebras slammed on eight goals to the Roosters' one major.

Three goals in the opening four-and-a-half minutes  had the Roosters starting to flounder. Six unanswered goals to mid-way through the term and the Roosters' heads started to drop.

There was, uncannily, barely a breeze at Eureka Stadium. There was no key Zebras' target to goals, all were sharing in the onslaught.

The Roosters had simply fallen apart.

Collective Rooster fight was reignited for a strong third quarter that worked them to 19 points down and with momentum at the final break.

One more goal, or perhaps doing without the solitary Zebras' one, would have made a big difference.

Onballer Nick Rippon notched up 25 disposals, 19 by foot with 100 per cent effectiveness, and kicked three goals.

Nathan Horbury (23 disposals, nine marks, three goals, five tackles) and Nick Peters (20 disposals, four clearances, two goals) were standouts.

Closely guarded Roosters captain Michael Searl was solid and offered a strong marking target. Searl booted two goals.

Ruckman Eric Wallace formed a good duel with the St Kilda-listed Billy Longer in the tap. Wallace, who made another three monster tackles, also bobbed up as a strong mark in defence when the Roosters were under siege.

For Sandringham, Maverick Weller dominated with 31 disposals and booting 3.2. St Kilda-listed midfielder Shane Savage, while not named in the Zebras' best, was also hard to contain with 29 touches and seven clearances.

One of the VFL's most formidable assignments - Geelong at Geelong.