By David Nagel
Those lucky enough to be at Olympic Park on Saturday would have to agree that the impact of Bonbeach champion Shane McDonald should never be judged on stats alone.
The 33-year-old, two-time league best and fairest winner, changed the course of the WorkSafe AFL Victoria Community Championships clash against Ovens and Murray with a brilliant third-quarter display – and he only touched the Sherrin seven times.
The Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League (MPNFL) was in urgent need of a spark, trailing by three goals at the main break against a quality opponent. But what McDonald produced next would lead the Sharks to a 41-point victory and propel the league into the number-two ranking in the state.
McDonald laid the platform in the first half with a classic long-range goal in the opening quarter, followed by another long bomb in the second to keep the Sharks in touch heading into the major interval.
But that platform was built on very quickly in the third quarter with McDonald having a direct hand in six goals – including four from his damaging right boot.
He started in the middle, gaining the first centre clearance, setting up Corey Buchan to kick the first goal of the second half inside 30 seconds. He then repeated the dose, extracting the next clearance, taking a bounce, and then settling from 35-metres out to bring the Sharks back to within a kick.
But he wasn’t finished yet.
McDonald then drifted forward, finding himself loose just 20-metres out at the 10-minute mark to kick another, before producing the play of the day at the 13-minute mark of the term.
With the ball tumbling out of the centre he attacked it at full pace, gathering brilliantly and firing off a handpass to Perry Lewis-Smith who converted on the run. He then banged through his third of the quarter from close range after some great team play from fellow small-forward Sam Fowler.
Shane McDonald gathers at full pace before dishing off to Perry Lewis-Smith for a third-quarter goal…
….and then out marks his taller Ovens and Murray opponent to kick his fourth goal for the quarter. Pictures: Gary Bradshaw – Frankie Photography
McDonald then capped off his work, using his low centre of gravity and superior strength to out mark a taller opponent and then pierce the middle from 30-metres out. It was the last score of the third quarter – the Sharks cruising to victory after kicking 7.2 to 2.2 for the term.
“It was a special day, to be honest, a really good win, and something the boys should all be very proud of,” McDonald said after his six-goal VCFL Medal winning performance.
“We knew they would be up and about early, but full credit to our boys for sticking to our guns and changing the momentum in the second quarter. We could feel the midfield starting to get on top and the delivery inside 50 was a lot better after half time.
“I think we had 16 inside 50s in the second quarter and only scored four times – so we needed to clean that up. In the third quarter the ball bounced my way, and the team’s way, and we put the score on the board.”
McDonald was quick to share the plaudits of the big win, praising the midfield for its contribution to victory.
“I thought our mids were fantastic, especially our two rucks, Dylan Jones and Harry Prior, and Kyle Hutchison and Sean Downie were huge through the middle as well,” he said.
“Their work rate was first class and it paid off big time in the second half.”
McDonald’s home club, Bonbeach, had the big screen plugged in on Saturday, watching the game live – courtesy of Red Onion and GameFace – while their fundraising reverse draw was being held. The Sharks champ was looking forward to getting back to the club for a few ales.
“I’m sure the boys would have a had a great day and I’m tipping I’ll have a few messages on my phone when I get around to looking at it,” he said.
“Bonbeach has been fantastic to me over the years and I look forward to getting back and sharing some stories and having a few beers with the boys.”