By Matt Fotia
For periods throughout 2021 North Ringwood’s Senior Men’s side seem destined for the drop down to Division One, but stuck fat to their free-flowing style of football under first year coach Robin Nahas and reaped the rewards, pinching late season wins against Blackburn and Doncaster to finish 2021’s truncated season with plenty of momentum.
Best Win – North Ringwood 10.8 (68) def Blackburn 7.14 (56)
Should the season have played out to its planned conclusion this win from the Saints would’ve been a major moment in the relegation battle.
The Saints started slowly, allowing Blackburn to jump out to a 24-point lead at quarter time, with the Burners‘ inaccuracy to blame for the game not already being out of reach at the first break (4.8 (32) – 1.2(8)).
But a galvanised North Ringwood unit fought hard to get back on level pegging by half time before a massive final term, in which the Saints booted four goals to none, saw them come home massive winners away from home.
Jake Ireland was a standout performer, named 2nd best on ground and kicking two massive goals, whilst Billy Schilling booted three majors and Jasper Rouget was best afield.
Worst Loss – Rowville 14.18 (102) def North Ringwood 8.8(56)
If the Blackburn win showcased the best of North Ringwood, this loss showcased the absolute worst, as two horrible quarters of football bookended a 46-point loss to fellow strugglers Rowville.
North Ringwood actually won the middle two quarters, kicking 7.6(48) to the Hawks 3.10(24), actually keeping Rowville goalless in the second term.
However, the first term and last term were a completely different story. Rowville were fast out of the blocks, up by 32 points at quarter after North Ringwood managed just one behind, and were equally quick finishing off the game, kicking six goals to one in the last to finish with a flourish.
North Ringwood conceded 32 scoring shots and had their defence exposed as Lachlan Wynd and Kurtis Flakemore kicked five and four goals respectively.
Star Player – Jack Whelan
One of the best ball accumulators in the competition, Whelan was the star Saint in 2021, racking up the possessions on his way to a top three Chandler Medal finish, giving winners Lachlan Johns and Blake Pearson a run for their money.
Whelan missed Round One against Norwood but immediately made up for lost time upon his return, named in the Saints best players for the next seven weeks running.
Whelan will be key for North Ringwood’s future both on field and off field, no doubt set to mentor the Saints next generation.
The Saints have already started re-signing the majority of the 2021 playing list including young starlets Harry Flynn and Brandon Leonard. Unfortunately, they’ve lost Billy Schilling who will return to his home club Montrose.
One area they need to target it, whether it be through a new system or through some new personnel. The Saints conceded 15 goals a game on average, way too high to be a consistently successful football team.
The Saints started the year off well with a strong Round One win over Park Orchards but faded as the year went on.
They remained competitive in all bar one game throughout the year however, showing good signs following their promotion in 2019.
Best Win – North Ringwood 4.18(42) def Berwick 6.5(41)
Taking on Berwick, a side that was pushing for a top four spot, North Ringwood impressed despite poor goal kicking, on their way to a one-point victory.
The Saints went goalless in the first quarter despite having six scoring shots and trailed by a goal at the main break, but through sheer volume of shots and possession North Ringwood got across the line.
Carli Forbes was the star up forward kicking three of the four Saints goals, whilst Johanna Conway and Tayla Deane were amongst the best.
Worst Loss – North Ringwood 5.7(37) def by East Ringwood 6.10(46)
North would have been more than disappointed with their showing against East Ringwood, with the Saints conceding 16 scoring shots to the lowly ranked Roos. Candice Taylor booted four majors for the victors.
Forbes found the goals again on this occasion, whilst Melissa Gilmore (two goals) and Victoria Galante (one goal and BOG) were the best Saints.
Star Player – Chloe Rice
Rice was easily the Saints most consistent player across the season, finishing in their best players four of a possible seven times.
The recent re-signing turned it on against eventual Minor Premier Ferntree Gully, finishing as her sides best against the Eagles.
The Saints have begun re-signing several the 2021 playing list, whilst adding a few recruits to the mix as they look to tackle Division One once again in 2022.
Like many clubs they’re at the stage of the development where retention is more important than on-field success. In saying that, it wouldn’t hurt to work on their goal-kicking!