By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Centrals have fine-tuned for the Geelong and District Football League Smiths Holden Cup finals with a barrage of goals.
Centrals delivered a 163-point win over cellar dweller Corio in the final round at Galvin Park on Saturday.
It became apparent from early in the contest that the Centurions were on their way to a comfortable victory – one that secured them a double chance in the finals.
Centurions coach Nick Smith was more concerned with the health of his players rather than with the margin, because Corio provided a physical test until the final siren provided mercy on its horror, winless season.
“Traditionally, they’re a pretty strong and physical side and they brought a fair bit of that,” Smith said. “I know it’s been a long hard year for them, but they fought it out.
“It was good to get a nice big win … we were still playing to secure that top-three spot and now we’ve done it, so we can enjoy tonight.”
Centrals showed how damaging they can be on a dry track. The Centurions’ strength is their spread from the pack. The likes of Brad Carlton, Matthew Millar and Daryl Chesterman thrived on the fast track.
Reece Miles was again the superior player at the stoppages.
“The make-up of our team is we like to run, we like to take the game on, so the conditions today suited us,” Smith said. “It set up an opportunity to score and score heavy.”
The major beneficiary of Werribee Centrals quick transfers from the middle to attack was Nathan Johnson.
He finished the game with seven goals – making it 16 for him in two matches against Corio.
Miles, Daniel Boyd and Josh Sutton kicked three goals apiece for the Centurions.
Youngster Josh Sloan was influential in the ruck.
Could Sloan be a smokey for the GDFL team of the year?
“In the last six to eight weeks, he would’ve beaten all the potential GDFL team of the year ruckmen in their contests,” Smith said.
“I’d have him in the GDFL team of the year, for sure. He’s like an extra midfielder as soon as the ball hits the ground.
That’s a big bonus for us.”
Werribee Centrals, who finished third, will square off with second-placed Bannockburn at St Albans Reserve on Saturday.
The winner of the qualifying final will meet minor premier Thomson for the right to a direct path to the grand final.
While the Centurions have been one of the dominant sides in the second half of the season, finals will be a bit of an unknown for them.
“The majority of my team haven’t played in finals,” Smith said. “It will be interesting to see how they handle the build-up.
“I’ll certainly be reminding them that it is an exciting time and you want to soak up the whole experience of being able to play finals.”