READ MORE - SATURDAY SCOREBOARD - June 29, 2019
JUST eight goals were scored in Strathfieldsaye's win over Sandhurst in a game that resembled a mix of rugby and soccer rather than a BFNL match on Saturday.
Played in atrocious conditions - central umpire Dean Goodridge described them as the worst he had encountered over his 35-year career - at Tannery Lane, the Storm led from start to finish in prevailing 5.13 (43) to 3.3 (21).
The Storm's tally of 43 was the BFNL's lowest winning score since Gisborne beat Eaglehawk with a total of 4.9 (33) in round 12 of 2006.
Starting at 2.20pm, the grinding round 11 game that featured the Storm wearing their yellow Give Me 5 for Kids jumpers resembled more of a gloomy night match given it was played under lights from the outset and with a yellow ball.
READ MORE - Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst, round 11 | PHOTOS
The weather conditions during the second quarter in particular were horrendous as players and umpires had to contend with not only a slippery Tannery Lane mud heap, but sheets of driving rain and a howling wind.
The two sides combined for just 1.3 during a second quarter that was largely played between the arcs.
The only goal of the second quarter came one minute in through the Dragons' Oscar Perez when he got boot to ball out of one of the many rolling mauls throughout the game.
The game's next goal wasn't kicked until the seven-minute mark of the third term following a clever snap in the pocket from the Storm's Josh Formosa, who revelled in the conditions.
Given the deplorable conditions, this was a game bereft of any highlights, rather a territory battle where it was just get the ball forward by any means possible, hence the soccer reference given the amount of scrubbed kicks off the ground.
All four of star Storm forward Lachlan Sharp's scoring shots for the game, in which he kicked 2.2, were from soccered kicks off the ground.
Down the other end one of the three goals Sandhurst kicked by Vini Rodi was also from a soccered kick off the ground in the first term.
The conditions didn't allow for any free-flowing play or precision passing, making it a nightmare day to be a forward with the pattern of the game instead a rolling maul of rugby-like scrums, sometimes with as many as 30 players around the stoppage.
On what was a day where the stoppage battle was going to be crucial, the count finished 32-20 in favour of the Storm, including 18-7 after half-time.
However, the 32-20 count was only a fraction of the amount of ball-ups and boundary thrown-ins given more often than not a repeat stoppage was required as opposing ruckmen Harry Crone (Strathfieldsaye) and Chris Down (Sandhurst), who were both among their team's best players, battled tirelessly against each other.
At one stage during the third quarter in the Dragons' forward 50 there were eight stoppages in a minute with the ball barely moving.
In a game where goals were always going to be at a premium, the Storm had the first two on the board in the opening 10 minutes through Sam Heavyside and Sharp.
The Storm led by eight points at quarter-time, five points at half-time and six points at three quarter-time and then kicked the only two goals of the final term through Sharp and Formosa.
Sandhurst kicked the last of its three goals at the nine-minute mark of the third term after captain Blair Holmes nailed a set-shot following a rare mark inside 50 for either team.
The Storm kicking 3.6 to 1.1 after half-time was reflective of Strathfieldsaye's capacity to lock the ball in its front half for much of the second half in what was a rebounding win from its first loss of the season the previous week against Eaglehawk.
"It was a great response from the boys today in what were really tough conditions," said Storm coach Troy Coates, who was sidelined with a hand injury.
"I was proud of the entire group given we had been questioned a bit after our effort last week, but the 22 who went out there were super."
In what was a dour struggle from the first siren to the last, the contribution of Formosa around the packs and to also kick two goals drew high praise from Coates.
"Joshy just loves the wet... for a bloke of his stature who is only 65-70kgs, those two goals he kicked out of nowhere were sensational; he does things in the wet that no-one else can do," Coates said.
"And I thought Hugh Robertson going into the middle in the second half was really important. He gave us that extra big body and he has great penetration with his kicking."
Among the best players for the Storm was Vinnie Flood in his comeback senior game - 1743 days since his last.
The Storm won the inside-50 count 38-29, while the Dragons had the better of the centre clearances 8-5.
The Dragons lost Callum Prest (back) in the first quarter, while Nick Stagg - who is due to play his 200th game next week - suffered a groin injury and Jake McLean copped a broken nose.
The Dragons' best were headed by two of their hard-nuts in Jake Pallpratt and skipper Holmes.
"It took us probably 15 minutes in the first quarter to adjust, despite the territory battle being the plan all week given we knew it was going to be wet," Sandhurst coach Ash Connick said.
"I thought once we got into the game it was fairly even... we had a 10-minute period in the third quarter where we needed to kick two or three goals, but we kept botching it, and when they had their periods of control they were able to score."
Sandhurst's score of 21 was its lowest since it was held to 1.10 (16) on a similarly horrendous day against Castlemaine in 2008.
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