FOR the past 12 weeks Bendigo Gold coach Aussie Jones has rated Footscray the team to beat for the VFL premiership.
Sunday’s clash at the Whitten Oval gave Jones no reason to change his mind.
The Dogs thumped the Gold for the second time this season, winning 22.15 (147) to 1.10 (16).
It was a 35-point improvement on the round four clash when Footscray won 214-48.
“Footscray is the best side I’ve coached against,’’ Jones said.
“They replicate the Western Bulldogs best footy. They ran hard, moved the ball well and when in trouble they bombed the ball to the top of the goalsquare and we just didn’t have the talls to go with their quality forwards.”
Kyneton product Jack Redpath, Liam Jones, Ayce Cordy and Jarrod Grant kicked 14 goals between them, while AFL-experienced players Tom Young, Daniel Giansiracusa, Lin Jong and Easton Wood ran riot for Footscray.
“(Gold fitness advisor) Paul Seery has seen a lot of VFL football in his time and he rates Footscray the best side he’s seen,’’ Jones said.
Skipper Steven Stroobants kicked the Gold’s only goal in the second quarter. The 1.10 (16) was the Gold’s lowest score since the club went stand-alone.
“Our effort today was uncompromised,’’ Jones said.
“Footscray were just too good for us. It was a great learning experience for our players to see what level they need to aspire to.”
Jones lauded Stroobants for his performance against the Dogs.
“That’s probably the best game I’ve seen Stroobs play,’’ Jones said.
“Since the announcement five weeks ago that the club would fold, Stroobs’ performances have been outstanding.
“As the captain of the club it says a fair bit about the character of the bloke.”
Jackson Sketcher, Brandon Hayes, Jesse Collins and Jesse Wallin were solid contributors for the Gold, while ruckman Jeremy Lambden earned praise from his coach.
“Jeremy is under-sized in the ruck, but you can never doubt his ability to compete,’’ Jones said.
“He just keeps getting up and giving everything he can.”
The Gold return to the QEO next Saturday night to host Richmond.