THE Swans are for real.
Ballarat has reaffirmed it is a Red Onion Ballarat Football League top four contender and claimed its biggest scalp of the season to date, defeating North Ballarat City 14.11 (95) to 10.6 (66) on Saturday at Simonds Park.
The Simonds Swans harrassed, bumped and tackled the black-and-whites out of their usual slick game, and burned Peach’s North City on the rebound.
Coach Shane Hutchinson, who sat the match out with injury, described it as his team’s best four quarter effort so far this season.
“The boys were switched on from the start,” Hutchinson said. “North City did not have an easy possession.
“Training was a bit down the week before but this week you could tell they were right up.
“We wanted to go one-on-one with them so they didn’t have any easy options to kick to give it to. Obviously it worked.
“We wanted to test ourselves against the best and North is a top side.
“Obviously we are not that far off being a top side ourselves.”
Ballarat looked sharper early against a North City line-up that was without important players Ayden and Tyler George.
The Northies were able to win enough of the contested footy in the middle of the ground, but were ground down by what looked like sheer weight of numbers.
Jason Richardson, for example, had two or three opponents rotated onto him throughout the match.
“We rotated a fair bit in the middle to make sure we had fresh legs on (Richardson),” Hutchinson confirmed.
“We didn’t want to have the same bloke on him all the time.”
Trailing by two goals at quarter time, North Ballarat City fought back with the breeze in the second term only for late goals to Garrett Liston and James Quayle to stretch the margin back out to 15 points.
While goals were hard to come by in the first half, the game opened up in the third, although not completely to North Ballarat City’s benefit.
The visitors managed four goals, but Ballarat responded with five.
The Swans then kicked the first two goals of the final quarter and then held North City at bay for the remainder.
Young ruckman Chris Howgate was outstanding for the Swans, contesting fiercely with Tristan Cartledge at the ruck contests and winning the battle around the ground.
Mitch Rodd, Nick Garner and Sam Caldow were good defensively while, Mark Nunn was also impressive with four goals in addition to helping out down back and in the ruck.
North City’s good players weren’t as consistent.
Brendan Howard was steady, McNamara had good patches and Cartledge kicked three goals.
“We just played horrible,” North City coach Rob Waters conceded.
“We couldn’t hit a target and their pressure was immense. They pressed us and we coughed it up.
“We won the contested footy but they won everywhere else.
“We try to be a professional football club so we’ll take a hard look at it after the game.
“We spoke about when we have a slump, how we should stop it.”
Ballarat 14.11 (95)
North Ballarat 10.6 (66)