SHARP run-and-carry play and near- flawless execution from North Ballarat Rebels carved up Northern Knights yesterday.
Dallas Willsmore booted six goals and Louis Herbert kicked five in a formidable and strong forward combination.
Rebels coach David Loader said there was not much more he could have asked from his players in the 82-point TAC Cup under-18 win at Eureka Stadium.
Loader said players stood up across all lines and, as the match played out, processes clicked stronger.
The Rebels were clearly beaten at the stoppages – the Knights finishing better by 11 in the count – but the Rebels’ tenacity and drive more than made up for the deficit.
“I couldn’t be happier with them,” Loader said.
“By half-time things looked like they were going to click...we’ve certainly got a lot of work to do in and around the footy but we’re playing so well around the ground.”
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Northern Knights reinforced their team with about seven of their better players for the road trip, including AIS-AFL Academy members.
The Knights put the first goal on the board, then the Rebels booted the next four.
Once the Rebels grabbed momentum they kept building their game.
The Rebels had a 25-point buffer by half-time and were up by five goals straight at the final change of ends before a nine-goal to one final term.
Six Rebels goals were booted in an emphatic final 10 minutes of play.
Willsmore kicked three goals and Herbert had two in the fourth-quarter blitz.
The pair impressed with reliable hands in strong marking contests, often in dangerous spots.
Jaydon Stiles (three goals) and Jake Neade (two) were also multiple goalkickers.
Rebounding defender Tyler Blake was clear best on ground, ruthlessly driving the Rebels’ run out of defence and tearing apart the Knights in a midfield stint.
Tony Lockyer and Matt Crouch were just as important in working the ball out of the midfield and Dom Barry showcased his stellar run-and-carry off the wing.
Tanner Smith held strong for the Rebels at centre half-back and put a stranglehold on the Knights ‘chances.
Knight Aiden Corr managed three goals and worked hard to set up his team-mates but the Rebels were too swift in clearing the ball from defence.
Loader was pleased with the workmanlike effort from his entire line-up.
Victory has reinforced the Rebels’ top-four status with four wins from five matches.
The Rebels host an in-form Oakleigh next week in a curtain-raiser to North Ballarat Roosters’ Victorian Football League clash against Coburg at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
Rebels 19.11 (125)
Knights 6.7 (43)