Sandringham is back on the winners list for the first time in six weeks after knocking off a dogged Port Melbourne by 21 points, no small part thanks to a brilliant 36-disposal, three-goal outing from Marcus Windhager.

The omitted St Kilda midfielder started the game like a house on fire with 11 touches and a clever crumbing goal to reinforce the Zebras’ promising first term, keeping his red-hot run going through to the final siren as the home side banked the four points.

Windhager’s form (11 inside-50s, nine clearances) mirrored that of his teammates throughout the afternoon, whose persistent use and drive of their legs, offloading by hand to keep the ball moving forward and pressure on the counterattack proved a winning hand in the 11.14 (80) to 8.11 (59) result.


Jake Batchelor’s side dominated proceedings for extended periods of the game and consequently forced Port Melbourne to defend grimly, but the latter’s knack for converting at the right times never had them out of the fight.

Two goals in a minute from Harvey Hooper was the only blitz the Borough could pull together to seriously challenge before the Zebras regained control to see out the remaining barrages. 

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While Windhager stole the show and subsequent headlines, Sunday’s win was the product of an ensemble cast across all lines.

Jimmy Webster’s 28-possession return to half-back from a six-week layoff recovering from a fractured cheekbone was seamless, while Isaac Keeler (10 disposals) was a particular positive up forward despite missing out on a major from his four attempts on goal.

Keeler’s ability to provide an aerial contest as the Zebras’ focal point in attack, deft knock-ons and relieving forward stoppage work cumulated into a notable performance from the three-gamer, with a major score to his name perhaps turning a commendable outing into a great one.


Fellow first-year James Van Es (13 disposals, four inside-50s) also penned his most influential outing, spending a considerable amount of time higher up the ground as Zaine Cordy (14 disposals) and Tom Highmore (20 disposals, seven rebound-50s) aptly took care of the key posts.

Jack Billings (24 disposals, six rebound-50s) worked his way into the game as a key link-up cog in the Zebras’ movement after a quieter second half, Tom Campbell (31 hits-outs, 18 disposals) was again a force in partnership with Max Heath (15 hit-outs, one goal) against mid-season rookie hopeful Sam Naismith, while Zebras Darby HipwellTyson Milne, Anthony Seaton, Noah Gown and sure-to-be Mark of the Week contender Jake Lohmann all left their respective stamps on the contest.

Lohmann may have had Goal of the Year to his name as well, potentially clipping the Sherrin with his boot while tracking back to the square late in the game - the major instead being listed as a third to Windhager, who kicked it initially.

Jimmy Webster racked up plenty of the Sherrin in Sandringham colours. Photo: Mark Woods, Sandringham Zebras.

Both sides were at their best when taking advantage of Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval’s smaller dimensions, in particular through fast, forward handballs to slice through the corridor.

The Zebras recorded 34 more handballs than the visitors, and also wrestled on top of the clearances 40-26 to further give themselves every opportunity to surge and spread forward in numbers.

Blake Watson and Hipwell extracted the ball perfectly to the Zebras’ runners, while Windhager was classy on both the inside and outside at varying points.

Sandringham will travel to GIANTS Stadium next Sunday afternoon in the hopes of going two on the bounce, while Port Melbourne will return to ETU Stadium for a Saturday night special against Sydney.

SANDRINGHAM  4.1  7.5. 9.7  11.14 (80)
PORT MELBOURNE  3.1  4.5. 6.9  8.11 (59)

Windhager 3, Watson, Heath, Blamires, Hipwell, Gown, Peris, Owens, Lohmann
Port Melbourne:
Hooper 2, Hunter 2, Green, Gasper, Cameron, Anastasio

Windhager, Webster, Campbell, Hipwell, Highmore, Billings, Milne, Keeler, Van Es
Port Melbourne: Hooper, Phillips, Rosman, Cucinotta, Clarke, Naismith