By Todd Whelan
A nine-goal opening quarter blitz has led Darley to a seventh straight win, and deserved double chance bonus ahead of the BFNL finals series starting this weekend.
Visiting Sunbury were left stunned by the sheer nature of the Devils efficiency going forward and, were made to pay the ultimate price in more ways than one by afternoon’s end.
Dan Jordan’s army took full toll of their 15-11 inside 50s advantage to lead 9.0-54 to 1.2-8 at the first change.
Rejuvenated small forward and dual Premiership player Leigh Spiteri (four goals) gave the Devils a timely reminder of his importance with a blue print example of how to play one of the more understated roles in the modern game.
The 25 year old was super efficient with his distribution and finishing, clean at ground level and sure overhead when required.
Will Johnson’s break-out season continues to head in the right direction with the versatile forward adding another four goals to his season tally, taking him to 36 and an equal sixth place finish on the Tony Lockett Medal table. Some effort.
Billy Myers (three goals) and Darren Leonard (two goals) posed an aerial threat for the most part and the ultimate beneficiaries of the Devils improved quality of entries.
Brett Bewley seemingly had his own footy in the first half before Luther Baker assumed the reins in the second with his tireless work rate and accumulation.
While Sunbury outscored the Devils through the middle part of the game to reduce the margin to near single figures, a seven-goal final term would consolidate a second win for the season over Travis Hodgson’s men by 45 points or more.
The fall out for Sunbury was devastating given underdog road wins to Redan and East Point relegated the Lions to seventh on the ladder, one game shy of featuring in the finals action.
Not since 2009 (13-3) have we seen the Devils finish second after the BFNL home and away season. Their impressive 14-2 win loss record eclipses any of the Devils previous returns since their move into the BFNL in the late 1990s.
For the record the Devils finished the home and away season in third (12-4) during their BFNL Premiership successes in 2015 and 2017.
A meeting with reigning Premiers Melton awaits the Devils in this Saturday’s Qualifying Final at Maddingley Park.
What the coaches said
Jordan (Darley) – “A real game of momentum swings. Great effort from our boys to dig their heels in and get the game back on our terms when Sunbury threw everything at us. Some great learnings to prepare for finals.”
Hodgson (Sunbury) – “Poor start as we were totally out worked early. Darley’s conversion at quarter time meant we paid the maximum price. We lifted our work rate and played some really good footy after quarter time and got the margin back to single digits in the last. Other results going against us meant that it was a disappointing way to end the season.”
Darley 20.4-124 def Sunbury 11.13-79
Darley (Whelan’s Best) – L. Spiteri, W. Johnson, B. Myers, B. Bewley, L. Baker, J. Cadman, B. Young, An. Azzopardi, M. Ward.
Darley (Goals) – L. Spiteri 4, W. Johnson, B. Myers 3, D. Leonard 2, B. Bewley, J. Cadman, An. Azzopardi, D. Bishop 1