CROSS TOWN rivals, a big crowd and, finally, two teams in finals contention.
All the Bacchus Marsh derby needed to be set alight again was a great game of football.
Darley and Bacchus Marsh delivered that with a classic BFL match at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
In a see-sawing contest, Darley’s strength triumphed over Bacchus Marsh’s finesse, 15.5 (95) to 17.11 (80), as each side displayed a decent mix of both.
The Devils bulldozed their way through the contest with 25 clearances to the Cobras’ 16. However, it was one of Darley’s more skillful players, Dane Grenfell who had a hand in three final quarter goals, that killed off a Bacchus Marsh revival that threatened to snatch the match back.
Darley coach Rod MacPherson said it was a better win than the club’s drought-breaking victory over Melton South in its first match of the season.
“It showed a bit of character the way the players kept coming,” MacPherson said.
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“We had 20 inside-50s in the last quarter and six inside-50 tackles. You don’t expect to get those numbers in a final quarter when guys are fatigued.
“This match was a bit of a fork in the road game for us. We could have dropped off early in the season. The team’s confidence copped a fair kicking last year.”
While Darley’s clearance work was a feature, so was Bacchus Marsh’s deft movement of the ball through the middle of the ground and into space. The Cobras also excelled on the spread as the Devils played a more direct style of game.
Bacchus Marsh held the edge by a point at quarter time, and by two points at half time. It should have been more, but Darley big name recruit Marty Pask kicked a goal and was then awarded a second shot at goal before the ball had returned to the middle of the ground, following a clash with a Bacchus Marsh opponent.
The Devils then played smarter football in the third quarter, finding more targets in the forward arc than they had earlier.
The Cobras’ slick style, meanwhile, was undone with a series of skill errors under pressure.
“We butchered the ball and turned the ball over, especially going forward,” Bacchus Marsh coach Dave Callander said.
“When people don’t execute it is often about pressure and perceived pressure. We weren’t able to make the right decisions and play to our strengths. We panicked a bit and played into their hands.”
That pressure came from Darley midfielders, such as best on ground Brad Inglis, Nathan Jackel and Jae McGrath, and Jake Zeestraten, who blanketed Bacchus Marsh skipper Tyson Shea. Darren Leonard was also outstanding.
Up forward, Marty Pask finished with seven goals in a return to form, while Dane Grenfell and Travis Minns were also effective, sharing eight goals between them.
Matt Denham, Pasi Schwalger, Danny Abbott and David Vanderpoel were all good players for the Cobras, while Shea still played remarkably well, despite the attention.