Bulls no match for Tigers

Noble Park''s Jake Gains leaps high in a ruck contest against Balwyn. 194285 Picutre: ROB CAREW

By Hayley Wildes

In a standalone Eastern Football League fixture on Saturday, Noble Park hosted Balwyn at Pat Wright Senior Oval.

Unfortunately, from the opening bounce the Bulls were completely outplayed as the Tigers jumped Noble Park early and never looked back.

To say Balwyn got off to a strong start would be an understatement; it was apparent from the first couple of minutes that the Tigers – who boasted a 6-2 record prior to this encounter – meant business.

The Tigers piled on seven unanswered goals and kept the Bulls scoreless in the first quarter as their midfield dominance translated up forward.

With their work cut out for them, the Bulls attempted to drag themselves back into the contest in the second quarter but wayward kicking for goal cost them any chance of that.

At half time, Balwyn led by 54 points, 10.5 (65) to 1.5 (11).

The onslaught continued in the second half as the Tigers – coached by former AFL coach Rodney Eade – put the foot down and never gave the Bulls any hope.

The third quarter was another scoreless one for Noble Park, while Balwyn put through another five majors of their own.

With the game all but over in the last quarter, the Bulls did manage to put some respectability on the scoreboard late and won the final term of play five goals to four.

It meant little though as the Tigers flexed their muscles all day and came away with a resounding and simply dominant 83-point win, 19.12 (126) to 6.7 (43).

The usual suspects of Kyle Martin and Jackson Sketcher battled hard all afternoon in a disappointing day for Noble Park, while Nathan Oakes (two goals) was the lone multiple goal-scorer for the Bulls.

The sheer number of the Tigers’ offensive threats were on full display with 12 individual goal-kickers showcasing just how impressive they are when they get going.

Cooper Sharman (three goals) was a class above for Balwyn, while Taylor Gilchrist and Charlie Haley (three goals) were also dominant.

After an encouraging start to the season for Noble Park – which saw them win their first three games of the year – the Bulls have come crashing back to earth in the last month-and-a-half, losing their last six games.

With such a young team, consistency was always going to be a question mark and Noble Park will need to find answers quickly to turn around its season with a 3-6 record after nine rounds. Their defence has proven to be its achilles heel as they’ve struggled mightily to keep opposition teams to a low score.

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