Noble Park lets one slip as Vermont opens account

Lachlan McDonnell and his Bulls were run down in the fourth quarter against Vermont. 403696 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

Noble Park’s winning run to open the new Eastern Football Netball League season is over after conceding a three-quarter-time lead at home against Vermont on Saturday afternoon.

Ahead by six points at the final break, Vermont kicked 3.3 to Noble Park’s 2.1 to sneak home two-point winners, 9.11 65 to 9.9 63.

The opening goal of the final term was always going to be significant, and it was last season’s runner up that struck first to tie the scores.

The Eagles won the ball in the Noble Park forward line from a stoppage and scrapped their way forward, leading to an easy goal at the back that slipped the Bulls’ clutches, locking the scores at 50 apiece.

Tom Nelson then provided a quick reply in the eighth minute, restoring the Bulls to a six-point lead.

The latest of the Nelson family to join the Bulls, Nelson intercepted an errant kick from an Eagles defender at centre-half-forward and goaled on the run from distance.

Ben Marson doubled Noble Park’s advantage just a minute later, marking just outside the goal square and completing a simple snap on his left after the Bulls won the centre clearance, for an equal game-high 12-point lead.

Vermont responded after an overzealous tackle from Dean Jones caught Eagle Ryan Fitzpatrick, around the neck, and key forward Daniel Nielson tied the scores in the 16th minute with a classy checkside snap after a scramble in his side’s forward 50.

A Jordan Marson turnover in the middle of the ground nearly proved fatal, as the prevailing kick from the Vermont attacker looked destined to bounce through for an open goal, but the ball’s momentum remarkably died in the goal square, allowing Mitchell Woolgar enough time to recover and launch another attack.

The latter stages of the game saw the Bulls under constant fire from repeat Vermont inside 50s, but they managed to continually find answers when challenged.

A series of behinds saw the Eagles edge ahead, and the pressure fell onto Noble Park’s shoulders, desperate to retake the lead.

But Vermont played the dying stages well, stacking extra numbers behind the ball to stymie the Bulls’ attacks, and take the heat out of the game with short kicks and marks when required.

The final siren sounded as Fitzpatrick lined up for another final quarter goal, bringing jubilation to the Eagles and seeing Bulls slump in despair, knowing they had let four points slip through their fingers.

It was a signficant result for Vermont, yet to win in 2024 after falling desperately close to Rowville in last season’s grand final.

Jackson Sketcher, Anthony Marson, Tom Bower and Nathan Noblett were all excellent for the Bulls, with Ben Marson leading the scoring with three goals.

The second-placed Bulls host the third-placed East Ringwood in round five.