BY JACK KOVACIC
Coburg has been defeated by 17 points by the Northern Blues in windy conditions today.
The game was played in Preston, with the Blues wearing a classic Bullants guernsey while Coburg also donned a heritage strip.
Five goals to debutant Hedley Smith was the highlight of the day for the large contingent of Coburg fans in attendance.
With small forwards Sam Lowson and Billy Cannolo both missing through injury, Smith perfectly filled the void left inside 50.
The early stages of the game were plagued with turnovers from both sides, before the Blues finally broke through and kicked a couple of goals consecutively.
Kicking against a strong breeze in the opening term, Coburg struggled to transition the ball inside 50 and continually broke down across half forward.
The first Coburg goal of the day came courtesy of debutant Liam Whelan.
Jack Murphy worked hard through the middle of the ground and found Whelan inside 50, who then kicked his first VFL goal with his first kick.
Despite the Blues having majority of the play in the opening term, Coburg, led by Tyson Lever, worked hard and went into quarter time with a manageable 16-point deficit.
Now with the breeze at their backs, the Lions looked like a different team in the second quarter.
Their disposal was much more effective and lead up targets were often found which allowed for cleaner ball movement going inside 50.
Floyd Bollinghaus took a strong mark in the goalsquare and made no mistake with his set shot to get the quarter off to a perfect start.
Josh Weightman (25 disposals) worked hard all game and his follow-up efforts were pivotal in a Mitch Podhajski snapped goal.
Lochie Dickson (29 disposals) was one of Coburgs most dangerous players all day and his set shot from 50 metres sailed straight over the goal umpires head to give Coburg their only lead of the day, midway through the second quarter.
A couple of late goals to the Blues meant they would go into half time with a four-point lead.
Smith was Coburg’s only goalkicker in the third term as the Northern Blues took control of the game kicking five goals to one, extending their lead to 27 points at the final change.
The Blues continued to pile on four goals early in the last quarter as Coburg’s defence struggled to deal with a high volume of inside 50s.
Coburg finally began to get the game on its own terms midway through the last quarter ,kicking six consecutive goals and taking control of the game but it was a case of too little too late.
Podhajski’s second goal was the highlight of the quarter, with a long bomb on the run from 65 metres bouncing through for a major.
Marcus Lentini had the ball on a string all day and finished with a game-high 42 disposals while Floyd Bollinghaus was impressive and created a contest all day.
Speaking post-game, assistant coach Brent Taylor was disappointed with the teams third quarter but was happy they never gave up.
“It was pleasing to kick the last six goals of the game but they were probably more junk time goals than anything,” he said, “We’ve got to find the balance to make sure that when the heats on we really need to lift our game and stick to our structures.”
Taylor was also happy with the performance of both debutants with so many senior players missing, particularly from the forward line.
“It was really pleasing to see Hedley kick five on debut and I know the boys really enjoy having him in the team.”
Coburg will look to bounce back next Saturday when it takes on Richmond in Beaconsfield
Northern Blues 14.15.99
Best: Bollinghaus, Lever, Smith, Dickson, Weightman, Podhajski
Goals: Smith 5, Podhajski, Stroobants 2, Dickson, Whelan, Bollinghaus, Noonan