Houghton bags eight
The Collie Eagles dominated fellow finals contenders Bunbury after half-time to claim a 34-point win at Payne Park on Sunday.
Eagles forward Joel Houghton booted eight goals in a powerful display alongside teammate Jayce Fontana (four goals) to lead the visitors to a 14.10 (94) to 9.6 (40) triumph.
Both sides went into the clash missing key personnel and it looked as if it would be a shootout for four quarters, with Houghton and Fontana booting goals at one end and Matt Martin (two goals) and Brett Peake (four goals) kicking them at the other.
But the Eagles picked up the intensity after half-time and found their trademark run and carry, kicking nine goals in the second half to just four in an impressive display.
Travis Cleggett continued his fantastic start to the season for the Eagles, again playing that loose man in defence role for his side and along with ruckman Paul Rinder, took a number of intercept marks.
Rinder was dominant in the ruck, giving the likes of Corey Griggs, Blake Shanahan and Michael Florio first use in the midfield.
His Bunbury counterpart Blair Della Franca though did not lower his colours, working hard around the ground to have an impact and provide a target.
The contest in the midfield was tight and tough, with neither side able to get on top and the Eagles led by just one point at the main break.
When Peake kicked his fourth goal at the start of the third quarter to give Bunbury the lead, it looked as if it would continue to be a goal-for-goal affair, but the Eagles kicked it up a gear, using their pace and precision skills to put Bunbury’s defence under enormous pressure.
Braiden McMullen, Xavier Williamson and Harry Creasey gave it their best to counteract for Bunbury and add some pace of their own, but the Eagles were slicker and more refined, using the ball cleaner when it counted.
Ill-discipline by the Bulldogs also did not help, with Bunbury giving the Eagles three goals throughout the match from free kicks and 50m penalties.
Houghton said his midfield did a great job throughout the game to give the forwards their opportunities.
“It was good from the boys in the midfield and up forward,” he said.
“They (Bunbury) challenged us for four quarters, but we were better for three quarters.
“They had us in the first but credit to our boys who came back.”
Houghton said he was pleased with his efforts..
“Things managed to fall my way,” he said.
The Eagles will now prepare to host the Eaton Boomers, while Bunbury will battle Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.
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