Yarram has a good Friday

Loyal servants: Yarram pair Josh Swift (200 games) and Griffin Underwood (250) are chaired from the ground after the Demons win.





YARRAM doesn’t lose milestone games.

That was what Demons playing-coach Griffin Underwood said at least after his side defeated Yallourn Yallourn North 13.10 (88) to 9.12 (66) on Good Friday.

Underwood celebrated his 250th senior match in the red and white, alongside Josh Swift playing his 200th.

The former was busy across half-back, while the script couldn’t have been written any better for the latter, as he kicked six goals including the sealer.

The Good Friday fixture has become a staple event on the North Gippsland Football-Netball League calendar since the Jets came into the league.

Until last Friday, the Jets had won both encounters since 2021.

Yarram now has a win for the Good Friday tally, and if the way they played in their most recent encounter is any indication, the Demon faithful have reason to be optimistic in season 2023.

The home side led at every change against the reigning premier, in what was an entertaining standalone Round 2 match.

In simplistic terms, Yarram was good, but YYN refused to go away.

The Demons squandered a number of scoring opportunities in the first quarter, while conversely, the Jets made the most of theirs to go into the first break virtually on level pegging 3.3 (21) to 3.2 (20).

A bizarre occurrence in the opening term saw a Yarram player affect a spoil, and mark the rebound some five metres away.

The things you see in country footy.

The Demons took control in the second quarter, adding 3.5 (23) to 1.1 (7).

Although they were inaccurate, the weight of inside 50s was telling, and really, Yarram should have been at least a further two goals in front by the main break.

As they say however, bad kicking is bad football, and the Demons had to be content with a 17-point lead.

It seemed bad kicking wasn’t just confined to the home side, as in the third term, the Jets went 2.6 (18) to 2.2 (14).

The crowd on the hill underneath the bar was given a half-humorous moment when a borderline call on the boundary was deemed to be out on the full.

Having been the one who kicked the ball, Yarram defender Shem Rendell clearly felt he was hard done by, laughing as he said “that wasn’t out on the full!”

The crowd was also given a good view of a set shot from YYN forward Josh Keyhoe.

After taking a strong overhead mark deep in the pocket, Keyhoe declined an option to square the ball to teammate Campbell MacInnes.

Although the resultant shot went wayward, one could see why he went for goal himself. Had he passed to the left-footed MacInnes, the shot may well have become more difficult as he was on the wrong side to allow for natural angle.

There is generally more to take into consideration surrounding moments in a game than the average supporter is aware of.

The third quarter was a relatively even affair, and come the final change, the Demons held a handy 13-point lead.

Underwood was pleased with his charges, praising their cleanliness on ground ball during his address.

Of most pressing concern for Yarram though was the number of times Jets key forward Dean Macdonald was able to get easy marks goal side from balls getting slingshotted out the back.

In order to counteract this, the Demons, conceding they didn’t have the leg speed to go with YYN’s small forwards, were instructed to hold their shape behind the ball.

In the end, Yarram didn’t really have to worry about what was happening in their defensive end – because they just kept kicking goals at the other.

Where they had been plagued by poor kicking in the first half, they couldn’t miss in the last quarter.

The Demons added five straight goals to round out victory to the tune of 22 points.

Kelly Griffiths produced one for the highlight reel, fending off an opponent and snapping truly to put the game beyond all reasonable doubt.

Griffiths was among the best players, along with milestone man Swift, Dylan Garnham, Levi Munns, Boadie Motton and Liam Bentley.

Best for YYN was Kyle Jennings, Keenan Hughes, Dylan Bentley, Macdonald (five goals), Elliott De Carli and Matt Twaddle.

The Jets wore a special heritage Yallourn guernsey, complete with collar for the occasion in what was also youngster Rowan Duguid’s first senior game.

Underwood and Swift were chaired from the ground, taking in the applause of well-wishes.

The milestones underpinned the loyalty of Yarram players, a trademark that has become synonymous with the club.

Underwood has won a staggering 11 best and fairests for the Demons, so one can only imagine the offers he has been given to play elsewhere.

The coach was quick to praise his troops in the debrief.

“It goes to show, we are in it if we want to be, we don’t need 100 goalkickers, high possession winners every week, we need people to buy-in to what we are doing and have a crack,” he told the group.

“Today we did that for four quarters, we didn’t let them get a run on, we kept our heads up.

“Today was a step in the right direction, from putting our head over the footy and just being clean with it … really pleased.”

The Demons now have a week off to refresh, before playing another premiership fancy in Traralgon Tyers United.

Yarram may have Dan Vardy back in time for that match. The ruckman missed this game through injury, but didn’t appear to be in serious pain walking around the ground.

His brother, West Coast premiership ruckman Nathan, was in Yarram supporting his home club.

There was some talk of him making a one-off appearance for the Good Friday blockbuster, but this did not come to fruition.

Imagine Nathan Vardy playing North Gippy, that would be RIP to all ruckmen.

Vardy has a YouTube QR code tattooed on his ankle linked to the last play of the 2018 AFL Grand Final, of which he played a pivotal part.

You can take the boy out of Yarram but…

Swift was spotted with two VB cans in one hand outside the rooms after the game.

You can’t take Yarram out of the boy.

For the Jets, they have now already lost as many games as they did last year.

While some might be quick to label it a premiership hangover, this is hardly accurate when things are put in perspective.

YYN has played Woodside and Yarram to start the season – two sides tipped by most pundits to be among the competition’s top five, and has had less preseason than nine other NGFNL clubs.

The Jets will start favourite in their next three games (against Rosedale, Heyfield and Glengarry).

Should they go to 3-2, watch how the narrative changes to ‘back in business’ .

Somewhat fittingly, YYN coach Barrie Burnett and Underwood were involved in a one-on-one marking contest right near the final siren on Good Friday.

Underwood took the mark, and his side went on to win the battle.

YYN can still well and truly win the war that is the NGFNL premiership.

As good as Yarram’s performance was, Underwood’s last words in his postmatch address perhaps hinted to a potential weakness.

“We’ve got a week off, don’t go too silly, we don’t have a lot of room for people to come in and out.”

THE rest of Round 2 in the NGFNL will be played this Saturday.

Spotted: West Coast premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy was home for Easter, watching Yarram play.

Loyal servants: Yarram pair Josh Swift (200 games) and Griffin Underwood (250) are chaired from the ground after the Demons win.