DARLEY has wasted no time sounding a warning in the Ballarat Football League.
The reigning premier flexed its muscle with a domineering 112-point victory over Melton South at Darley on Saturday.
While the Devils has to wait almost two decades for their first BFL premiership, they gave notice that a second might not be too far away.
Final scores: Darley 24.17 (161) d Melton South 6.13 (49)
A powerful midfield provided the impetus for Darley as it out-classed Melton South.
Luther Baker, Leigh Spiteri and high profile recruit Mitch Banner, were among the early pacesetters as the Devils laid the foundation, and then Henderson Medallist Steve Kennedy, pacy defender Luke Delahey and Anthony Chiu became more influential as the day wore on
The Panthers had no answer to Darley’s pace and ability to run the football and open up the ground – a factor highlighted by Devils’ coach Jarrod Edwards post-match.
The warning signs came early for Melton South, with it struggling to get out of its defensive 50m arc in the opening quarter.
Only Darley’s wayward kicking in front of goal – 3.5 – kept the visitors in touch and Melton South coach Mark Pederson was more than aware of it as he emphasised what was required when playing against the best.
He gave his players an old-fashioned spray at the first break – holding nothing back as he attacked their lack of effort. Pederson was also critical of the space given to the dangerous Banner in his first game for Darley.
His pay-out did have an impact, with the Panthers lifting their work rate with harder running and attempts to take the game on.
Unfortunately, they were not rewarded on the scoreboard and a string of turnovers, many of which were unforced, meant they trailed by 31 points at half-time.
Hardy defender Angus Storey, Brendan Hooper and Anthony Hibbert continued to give their all, but ultimately it simply proved too much for Melton South as it was overrun.
It was only to get worse. Darley overcame a quiet patch to kick the last 15 goals of the match – nine in the last quarter.
Dane Grenfell was a major beneficiary of what became party time with five goals, and Banner added to his tally with a couple of sparkling efforts to finish with four.
Harley Inglis also kicked four majors as he did most of his damage in the first half.
Drew Edwards marked his return after a year off with event performance, capped off by two goals. Jarrod Edwards always went forward to add another dimension.
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