Barossa District made it back-to-back convincing wins to open the season with a 48-point demolition of Angaston at Lyndoch.
Entering the game with five first choice A graders missing Barossa coach Roger James admitted his goals were simple going into the contest.
“I told the team that I’d be happy to get away with a win and didn’t mind how we played as we’d made a lot of changes,” James said.
His mindset was understandable with his injury list including Ross Christie (corky), Matt Stelzer (hamstring), Adam Spencer (strained medial ligament), James Angus (hamstring) and Scott Jenkins.
The Bulldogs coach’s concerns proved well founded when Angaston kicked the first two goals of the game through Brad Sugars and Jack Miles despite there being no open flowing ball movement as both teams were tackling hard in close at the stoppages forcing field umpires Sarah Jameson and Mark Herrmann to repeatedly throw the ball up to restart play.
With neither team fielding a recognised ruckman it was almost impossible to win clearances and Nathan Emes was often employed as the third man up for the Bulldogs.
As the first quarter evolved Barossa began to show the main difference between the two sides, the ability to take marks inside their forward 50 metre arc as James and Heath Commane started to assert themselves. Late goals to Brent O’Driscoll, James and acting Captain Paul Stelzer allowed Barossa to claim a four-point lead at quarter time which could have been more had Commane kicked straight. The second quarter was played out in a similar congested fashion to the first.
New recruit Jesse Aish was busy around the middle of the ground, his precision and ability to put the ball to his teammates advantage was a cut above while young gun Jock Cameron, moved into centre to cover for Spencer, was impressive with his physicality and tackling and teamed with the irrepressible Michael Taylor and Stelzer as the Dogs midfield began to get on top.
Darren Sharp was his ever reliable self when in defence and strong in the pack when switching with Aish on the ball but the Bulldogs best defender was Craig McAlpine, who not only handled the kick in duties with aplomb but made life difficult for his opponents.
For the Panthers, Miles was prolific in the first half and new Panther Jack Fosdike had his team buzzing after two consecutive goals to start the third term.
Despite Angaston being competitive in patches it was clear that Barossa was more cohesive with Angaston having seven new players from their round 18 game last season. That combined with just one trial game and the bye in round one made it hard for Angaston to find their groove against one of the competition’s premier sides.
“It was pretty disappointing to lose the way we did but I’m confident we’ll get better,” Angaston coach Craig Hadden said.
“A couple of the new guys were really good. Fosdike was our best and won the Bob Christie medal (awarded to Angaston’s best player in the match played nearest to ANZAC day) and Mark Ruwoldt showed his class and I’m expecting big things from them as the season goes on.”
For Barossa it was the big forwards that did the damage with Commane kicking four goals and Simon Wills three.
On top of the existing injuries Barossa suffered another blow with Launce Kent suffering a hamstring injury.
“We’ve got the bye this week and the timing couldn’t be better as it gives our guys a break to recover,” James said.