The Woodies headed North to Sandgate last week in a crucial clash of 2nd vs 3rd that would likely secure 2nd spot for the winner and the double chance.
After a number of weeks with key players injured and unavailable, the Woodies welcomed back a raft of key players into the side to be as close to full strength as they have been this season, which is a pleasing time of year for this to occur!
It proved to be crucial in the outcome, as the Woodies started slowly with a relatively even opening half as teammates regained their familiarity and began to finally gel as a team as the game wore on. The defensive group was again superb, but more pleasingly was the consistent efforts of the midfield to work back to assist and cover - enabling the Woodies to not only defend well, but set up a number of attacking waves from the back half due to quality numbers around the ball able to break the lines.
Andrew Bell has hit a solid purple patch at full-back, while Scott Matthews and Tim McEvoy were influential both with ball in hand and directing traffic. Paul Eaton and Lochie McDonald also spent time deep in defence and their long clearing kicks often caught Sandgate on the hop.
In the midfield, Thomson was dominating the hitouts and enjoyed a strong first half with plenty of defensive grabs dropping back into space before Sandgate learnt their lessons and began to lower their eyes to shorter options. Woods, Hockley, Curtis, Garland, Ness and Davis were all hitting packs hard, wining the footy and generally dominating the Sandgate onballers at stoppages, particularly on the inside.
However, the star of the show was up front with Jake Fuentes playing the absolute textbook game as a small forward, zipping around packs - laying forward 50 tackles, clearing space and regularly getting front and centre with clean hands to create scoring opportunities for teammates and himself alike. In a clear best on ground performance, he created a new dimension in a traditionally slower aging forward line generally known for their marking power through Moore, Baker et al.
In a dominant 2nd half the Woodies piled on 8 goals to 1 to run out winners by 48 points and lock away 2nd spot with finals just around the corner.
Woodsmen 12.7 - 79 defeated Sandgate 4.7 - 31
Best: Fuentes, Davis, Bell, McEvoy, Toohey, Ness
Goals: Fuentes 3, Baker 3, Mihalopoulos, Davis, Woods, McDonald, Moore, Hockley