Storm blows Magpies away

A SEVEN-goal blitz in the third quarter saw the Western Storm blow away a determined young Devonport side to record its inaugural State League victory in  their season-opener at Aurora Stadium yesterday.

The Storm's skill and class showed out in the second half after the Magpies had gallantly challenged their more fancied opponent in the first, trailing by just two points at half-time and could have led by three goals but for inaccurate goalkicking.

But with 12 former South Launceston premiership players in their side, the cream rose to the top and the floodgates opened in the second half as the Storm cracked the game open with their run, booting 14 goals to three after half-time to record a 19.14 (128) to 7.13 (55) victory.

Devonport's pressure was outstanding in the first half as they took the game to the Storm but they were unable to sustain the intensity and ran out of legs in the second half.

They struggled to find goals whereas the Storm had no such problem with big man Bart McCulloch, the athletic Alex Russell and the dangerous Thane Bardenhagen all creating opportunities in front of goal.

McCulloch was outstanding after a scratchy start, dominating in the air and up forward after half-time in a best on ground performance, having 24 touches, kicking six goals and pulling down 16 marks.

Alex Russell provided plenty of support finishing with six goals as well and Bardenhagen showed his importance as a crumbing forward to bag four.

Their onball brigade of Beau Thorp, Jay Blackberry, Matt Hanson, Chris Taylor, Zane Brown and Bardenhagen dominated the clearances and created plenty of run and forward momentum in the second half after being well held in the first.

Captain Blackberry was busy throughout picking up a game high 36 possessions and provided quality feed to his forwards inside 50 with his silky foot skills.

Western Storm coach Mitch Hills was ecstatic with a first-up win for the TSL's newest club and saw plenty of upside from the victory.

``It was a real challenge and we didn't have it all our own way but we put it on a few guys at half-time and the whole team  responded which is pleasing to see,'' Hill said.

``We took a while to settle and we knew Devonport would come hard and they have a lot of talent in their team

``I wasn't surprised by the way they played and thought we were pretty ordinary in the first half and did some things away from our game plan so we have things to address through the week.''

Devonport coach Max Brown rued missed opportunities in front of goal in the first half and said a poor second half took the gloss off an impressive start.

``It was our fault we trailed at half-time because of inaccurate kicking and we kept the reigning premier to four goals,'' he said.

``I genuinely believed we could win today and pull off a huge upset and we were tracking all right at half-time.

``But the reality is we fell away and the scoreboard tells us we've been soundly beaten.

``We didn't come out after half-time with the same intensity and couldn't get our hands on the ball and we went away from the things we were doing to stop their spread in the first half.

``When they went up a gear we couldn't go with them.''

Nathan Robertson and Ryan Keep kicked two goals each for Devonport with Beau Sharman, Brandt Lee and Sam Hess among their best.

Devonport's Alexander Lee and Western Storm's Mitchell Hills in the ruck. Picture: Mark Jesser

Devonport's Alexander Lee and Western Storm's Mitchell Hills in the ruck. Picture: Mark Jesser


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