It was the final term that separated the two sides at Skybus Stadium on Sunday, as Werribee ran away 29-point winners against Frankston.
The Dolphins were superb in the contest but were unable to capitalise early and consistently achieve the fundamentals which ultimately cost them the game, going down 4.11 (35) to 8.16 (64).
Skipper Josh Newman won the important toss and kicked to the Young Street end with a five-goal breeze.
After several entries and two behinds from the visitors, Goy Lok completed a magical smother followed by a brilliant tackle that lead to Beau Bailey kicking the first of the match.
Within a minute, Bailey was caught high and the small forward sent another over the goal umpires hat to give the Dolphin’s a two-goal buffer.
After Bailey’s second for the term, the Dolphin’s kicked 7 straight behinds, including hitting the post three times which kept the door open for the Tiger’s.
Whilst dominating possession Frankston provided manic pressure that brought the crowd into the match, laying an outstanding 10 tackles in the opening five minutes and 35 tackles for the first term.
James Rendell was sublime in the ruck but it was his ground work that guided the Dolphin’s to a 17-point lead at quarter-time.
With the wind playing a big factor in the match, coach Danny Ryan urged his players to play a different style of footy against the breeze and be smart with possession.
Werribee came in the second term and tested the structure of the Frankston back six, slamming in 15 inside 50s that resulted in the Tiger’s taking back the lead whilst setting the third term up to be crucial in the context of the match.
Will Fordham was extraordinary in the second term, laying an astonishing 8 tackles, but he wasn’t alone as Corey Rich demonstrated his class combatted with grit as he also entered the rooms with 6 tackles.
As the players ran off for the half-time interval, the Frankston crowd were cheering them on with pride as the Dolphin’s intent and effort was indisputable.
Coach Ryan pointed his finger at Bailey and commended the 21 year-old for his electric start to the game.
Trailing by 7-points at the main break, the Dolphins, as they have been for majority of the year, were right in it.
“This is your quarter, you won’t win it but you’ll set it up,” Ryan said to his group moments before they ran out for the critical premiership quarter.
Setting the scene for the third term was Fordham, starting the second half as he finished the first, laying a Herculean tackle at the bounce.
Werribee landed a telling blow kicking the first of the third and jumping to a 13-point lead against the wind. But Nathan Freeman lifted the group with a courageous mark in the middle of the ground that lead to his first major for the match.
The Dolphin’s were pressing but were in a race against the clock to utilise the breeze, Jack McHale in his first game back from injury was caught high and went back to calmly snatch back the lead for the Dolphin’s.
Late in the third term, Chris Diggle was involved in a sickening collision that halted play and left the Dolphin’s with 21 men as they headed into the final break with a three-point lead.
Finishing against the wind, it was going to take Frankston’s best to claim that elusive first win, but the belief was there.
Werribee took back the lead in the third minute of the final term and were an immovable force afterwards. Despite some exciting work from Goy Lok, the Tiger’s kicked five unanswered goals which ultimately secured them the four points.
With hunger and teamwork, the Dolphin’s have been noticeable improvers in 2019, which makes a winless start to the season all the more frustrating for senior coach Danny Ryan and his players.
“Yeah it is frustrating, I am sure it’s frustrating for the supporters and members, we have to just keep balancing the short game with the long game.
“Short game is what happens today and the ladder position, we don’t focus a lot on the W’s and L’s, we focus on what the team is growing into.
“From the first three games this year, to the last four, it has been a quantum leap so if we can keep progressing, coaching and facilitating their growth, we can see a continuing trend in the back half of the year.
“But it still a long game over the two to three-year plan,” Ryan said.
Frankston won the clearances in every term and were only down on inside 50s by 4, yet lost the game, Ryan said it was the basics that resulted in his side’s defeat.
“I think our inability to execute fundamentals under pressure.
“The ability to control the ball, we only took 32 marks for the day, so we couldn’t find each other to control the ball, we couldn’t go inside 50 against the wind, we only scored at one end.
“And we didn’t capitalise on our entries that we did have, especially in the first-quarter, we kicked 2.7, if that’s 5.3 we are in better shape, we didn’t take our chances and couldn’t control the ball,” Ryan said.
Frankston have a bye next week before the first of the two local double headers at Skybus Stadium, the Dolphin’s will take on Port Melbourne on June 9 at 2pm following the curtain raiser between Mt Eliza and Frankston Bombers which kicks off at 11:15am.
SCORE: FRANKSTON 4.11.35 DEF BY WERRIBEE 8.16.64
Bailey 2, Freeman 1, McHale 1.
Newman 26, Lok 21, Fordham 18, Freeman 18, Gordon 18.
Rendell, Lok, Rich, Bailey, McHale, Gordon.
Dolphins Digital Media Team