A telling display from Hunter Clark and Brandon White has put Sandringham on the winners list for the first time this year.
The duo were crucial in kickstarting the Zebras’ season, racking up a respective 29 and 27 disposals to will their side to a 24-point victory over Williamstown at a blustery Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
Sandringham trailed by three points at quarter-time before booting eight goals with the wind to keep the Seagulls at bay.
A clutch goal from Clark in the last quarter stabled the Sandy ship, as did his five tackles, physicality in the stoppages and clean hands.
His work in the clinches, much of which was a product of Billy Longer’s ascendancy in the ruck (39 hit-outs) was a standout through out the the afternoon.
It was much of the same for White, whose influence across half-back, toughness at the contest and strong intercept work was unwavering in a day which saw multiple momentum swings.
Jonathon Marsh was similarly swung between offence and defence across the afternoon, with the 23-year-old experimented deep in the forward line when the Zebras were kicking with the wind, resulting in a goal and several assists to his name.
Marsh’s strength in the air often saw him double-teamed, yet his ability to bring the ball to ground gave Sandringham’s crumbing forwards opportunities at goal.
Sandringham coach Aaron Hamill was pleased to see his side up and about after their long-awaited win against a top-shelf opposition, but knows there’s still work to be done.
“Everything didn’t go to plan a lot, but we ground it out, sort of shoulder to the wheel stuff,” Hamill told saints.com.au.
“[Williamstown are] obviously a quality outfit with AndrewCollins’ coaching – a hardworking side, a disciplined side, a real contest side – so it was pleasing for us we were able to execute.”
“We certainly knew they were going to challenge us, but our boys held their nerve well, stuck to the system and [showed] a fair bit of belief in how we play. We were pretty good in all three phases, and defensively, I thought our backs were outstanding.”
Nick Hind was one defender who put together a solid performance, and while his 20 touches weren’t close to his 41-disposal haul from last week, his run and dash off half-back was labelled as “super” by Hamill.
Nick Coffield and Darragh Joyce were also promising down back with 19 and 16 disposals respectively.
Luke Dunstan (21 disposals) was again a notable presence as an inside midfielder and finished his afternoon with two crucial goals after receiving strong opposition attention, while David Armitage was again among the Zebras’ best with 24 touches of his own.
Doulton Langlands meanwhile was ruled out of the game after sustaining a head knock in the first quarter, with Robbie Young pinch-hit through the middle.
For Clark and White in particular, the chance at a senior call-up beckons.
Clark was omitted from the St Kilda line-up in favour of Jack Steven last week, but has made a pressing case for a recallfollowing his dominant showing against the Seagulls.
The unfortunate injury to Jarryn Geary may open the door for White, who has been listed as an emergency for the Saints several times this season off the back of solid form.
Sandringham will have a chance to soak in the celebration with its bye scheduled for next week, before facing Frankston on Sunday May 5 for the double-header with the Southern Saints at RSEA Park.
SANDRINGHAM 3.1 8.3 11.5 14.8 (92)
WILLIAMSTOWN 3.4 5.8 6.11 9.14 (68)
Sandringham: D. Seccull 4, Dunstan 2, Answerth, Clark, Fox, Gilbert, Marsh, O’Toole, Rowe, Young
Williamstown: Rodda 3, Thorpe 3, Meese, Ottavi, Wheeler
Sandringham: Clark, White, Longer, Dunstan, D. Seccull, Armitage, Marsh
Williamstown: Rodda, Marcon, Thorpe, Wheeler, Meese, Mellington