North Ballarat has begun their first year back as a stand-alone club in the VFL with a thrilling 6-point win over Coburg in round one at Piranha Park. The Roosters, under new coach and club games record holder, Marc Greig, fielded a young team with 3 debutants; ex-Rebel Rowan Marshall in just his seventh game booting home the winning goal 25 minutes into the last quarter to see the Roosters home – 12.9.81 to 11.9.75.
In an entertaining game played in perfect conditions the visitors began best opening up a three goal lead by the first change. The Roosters moved the ball with more precision than Coburg and their pressure and determination at the contest belied their youthful numbers.
Greig asked his charges to increase the tackle count at quarter-time and praised his forwards on their ability to keep the ball in their zone. Former St.Kilda player, Ahmed Saad, snapped truly for the Lions a minute after the re-start, however, the Roosters kicked the next three goals to stretch their lead out to 29 points.
Shaun Lyle proving elusive on the forward line for North Ballarat and reigning J.J.Liston Trophy winner, Nick Rippon, was in the thick of it around the packs. Rooster's defender Tony Lockyer left the field midway through the term with an ankle injury and was on crutches after the game.
The margin was quickly reduced with goals to Daniel Younan, Robbie Fox from a towering mark over three North Ballarat defenders and Lachlan Johns - the difference just eight points at the main break.
The third term was an arm wrestle with only three goals scored. Coburg's more experienced ball movers became influential with the likes of Ozgur Uysal (27 disposals) and Younan (3 goals) getting involved.
Former Box Hill Hawk, Peter McEvoy, was dangerous up forward for the Lions while down the other end Lyle had kicked three for the Roosters.
At the final change the margin was only two points the Rooster's way - 9.5.59 to 8.9.57. A calm Coburg coach, Peter German, asked his players to ‘stick at it’ and instructed them to look for McEvoy when going forward.A minute into the last quarter and the home side was in front for the first time in the match thanks to a goal from Lech Featherstone. All of a sudden the terraces were alive at Piranha Park.
North Ballarat hit back however through the experienced Luke Kiel before Fox kicked his second to wrestle back the lead for Coburg half-way through the quarter. Rooster's hard man Lachlan George kicked truly from well out to give his side the lead after 19 minutes but the scores were level soon after when McEvoy was awarded a free kick deep in the pocket at the scoreboard end.
With most of the play in Coburg's forward half and the match well into time-on, the ball was eventually released out the back to allow the Roosters to run and find Marshall who marked strongly on a slight angle with little time left on the clock.
It was a stirring victory for the new look Roosters after a summer of change and one which they can take plenty of spirit into the season. Coburg would be disappointed with the result in a game they were fancied to win, after showing much improvement last year they were caught napping by the youthful Roosters.
Better players for North Ballarat included match hero Marshall, George, Rippon, Lyle (4 goals) and Matt Johnston while for Coburg, Younan, Ben Allan (21 disposals) Fox, Rory Lehman and Liam Hunt (22 disposals) battled hard. Round two sees North Ballarat take on Essendon under lights at Bendigo's QEO Oval while Coburg can look to redeem themselves in an away clash with Port Melbourne.
For full match details click here