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PORTLAND OBSERVER Wednesday December 4 2013 27
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Portland Touch closing the gap
DESPITE narrowly losing the Cross Border
Challenge Portland Touch Football coach
Cecilia Eichler was rapt with the continued
improvement shown by Portland's three
representative sides at Saturday's tournament
against Mount Gambier at Portland's Friendly
Six matches were played across the day, with two
rounds of men's, women's and mixed touch being
played, with Portland going down 2-3 overall to
The competition is in its second year, having
being created last year to give the Mount Gambier
and Portland associations more opportunities to
play higher level competition, with their distance
from the other centres in the Western Region
making it diffcult to always participate in other
Eichler said the weekend's results were a vast
improvement on when the Portland Touch
Association started getting back into intertown
competition a few years back.
"Two years ago we were going away and getting
beaten 15-nil, where as now we are up there with
them," Eichler said.
"I think it is just the players that we have got that
is making the difference.
"Having a good strong core of women has been
"The men are new, we have a lot of speedy guys
I have taken under my wing, a few of them play
in my team in the local comp, which is handy
because when we have got the mixed side we
have players who know what I want them to do
already, which makes my job easier."
Women leading the way
Portland dominated the women's games on the
weekend, winning the opening women's match
13-0 and the second 12-0.
Steph Arnott was outstanding in the opening
game for Portland, scoring four times and being
named best on ground, while Eichler herself
regularly got over the line to score three touch
Sarah Malseed, Hana Woodhead,
Kelly Edwards, Fiona Arnott and
Renae Newell all scored once
each for Portland in the win, with
Malseed and Tara Naige also listed
among the better players alongside
An injury to a Mount Gambier
player was a real blow on the day,
seeing the side down to seven and
leading to the team battling fatigue
late in the halves.
The second women's match again
saw Malseed fgure prominently in
the play for Portland, leading all
scorers with three and being named
best on ground.
Woodhead and Eichler each scored
twice in the game, wit Fiona and
Steph Arnott, Newell, Brigita
Keller and Esther Hazleton all
scoring once each.
Mount Gambier's E. Wilson was
her side's best player in the loss,
with Eichler also performing well.
The men's matches were a different
matter for the home side, with a
very strong Mount Gambier team
proving too polished in fnishing
off around the score line.
Mount Gambier won the opening
men's game 9-1, with Ben Loef
leading all scorers with three and
Tom Dolan scoring twice, while
Michael Storey scored Portland's
The home side was competitive
early in the game but Mount
Gambier was simply better and
converting their opportunities.
Better players for the game were
Mount Gambier's Sean Fulton
and Dean Watson, with Storey
Portland performed a
little better when these two
sides met again after the
lunch break though were
never really threatened to
win the match, with Mount
Gambier taking the game
Again it was around the
fve-metre line that the
game was won and lost,
with Mount Gambier
simply a bit sharper with
Loef was again a danger
around the score line,
running over twice, with
Marcus Devereux, Dean
Watson, Tom Dolan and Jason Brooks
also scoring twice each.
Storey again scored for Portland, with
Pat Mahon scoring the other touchdown.
Mount Gambier's Watson was named
best on ground after showcasing some
impressive tricks near the score line, with
Dolan also impressive and Portland's
Storey continuing his strong form on
from the morning.
The opening mixed game of the day was
clearly the tightest of the day, resulting in
a fve-all tie.
Mount Gambier took the lead early and
held it for the majority of the match,
however Portland's Tara Naige produced
a highlight reel play on the siren with last
touch called with a beautiful show and
go to run in for her frst score of the game
to level the scores.
Mahon scored twice for Portland in the
match, wit Storey and Michael Vom also
crossing to score.
Nick Moretti led Mount Gambier's
scorers with two.
Mahon was named best on ground in
the tie, with Naige also rating a mention
and Mount Gambier's Jason Brooks
With the scores locked at two-all and one
draw heading into the fnal mixed match
of the day the intensity picked up a little,
with the home side realising they were a
chance to claim the Challenge for the frst time.
The two sides traded scores and when Moretti ran
over the line just before half time Mount Gambier
went into the half time break with a 3-2 lead.
Mount Gambier extended its lead early in the
second half, going out to a 5-2 lead, and while
Portland was able to put itself scoring positions
consistently Mount Gambier's defence was up to
Naige crossed the line on the outside to keep
Portland's hopes alive late in the half but
when Loef scored his eighth touchdown of
the tournament it saw Mount Gambier home
comfortably, winning 6-3.
Loef and Moretti each fnished with two for
the match, while Portland's scorers were Storey,
Naige and Steph Arnott with one each.
Watson was named best on ground in the decider,
with Loef and Mahon also playing well.
Best player overall in the men's competition was
Mount Gambier's Dean Watson, while Portland's
Malseed was named the best women's player and
Mahon the best mixed player.
Loef was the leading scorer for the tournament
with eight, while Steph Arnott crossed the line for
six to be Portland's leading scorer.
Challenge helping association grow
Eichler said every chance the Portland association
had to play at that level was a real beneft to the
development of the game in Portland.
"The level of the competition is 10 times as fast
as what we play locally.
"The Mount Gambier men are state players, there
are players who have played for Australia, so you
have to step it up otherwise you get walked all
“It has defnitely improved our competition and
you can see the players who are coming away
with us have defnitely stepped up.”
Eichler said it was still hard at times to attract
new players into the inter-town squads, with
many of the local players feeling they were not up
to the challenge, however this weekend's results
show Portland is not the poor-country cousins
they once were.
"A lot of our main people who would always
come away have moved on, so there have been a
lot of new recruits for me this year, I have spent a
lot of time spent on the phone encouraging people
"Once I get them there they love it and want to
"I have been lucky with the women that i have
got, they are all really athletic and smart, so they
are learning really quickly.
"A guy from Touch Victoria came down and he
seemed to think that our women's team would be
the strongest in the whole Western Affliates Cup.
"The men have still got some way to go, but we
are still in the game, which is good.
"I think the difference is the commitment to
training and getting the same core of men to come
“There is defnitely some talent in there and if
I can get them to commit to a few more training
sessions they will defnitely improve.”
PORTLAND'S Michael Storey narrowly avoids the tag in Saturday's Cross Border challenge between the
Portland and Mount Gambier Touch Associations.
Picture: ELLY HATELEY 131130eh09
PORTLAND'S Tara Naige was one of the more consistent
players in Saturday's games, regularly among her
side's best and threatening around the score line.
Picture: ELLY HATELEY 131130eh14
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