Photo: Nathan McNeill (NWM Sports)

By: Daniel Kelly (@UKurrie)

The Northern Bullants, wearing the famous PFC monogram, enter the final stretch of the season
(after a bye) on a loss after being jumped early at Preston City Oval by standalone rivals
Williamstown.
The Seagulls kicked away with a ten goal to four first half against the Bullants, and despite the
Preston side wrestling back some respect in the second half, it was too late as Williamstown ran out
comfortable 13.9 (87) to 9.8 (62) winners.
Andrew Courtney and Ryan Gardner returned to the Ants side as Kuiy Jiath and Liam Kolar made
way.
Jacko Barling (28 disposals, one goal, 11 clearances, and nine tackles), Will Mitchell (30 disposals,
nine clearances), and Tom Wilson (27 disposals, one goal, six inside-50s), led the way with the ball in
the engine room.
Jean-Luc Velissaris kicked three hard won goals in three different ways, Tynan Smith two, and
Mackenzie Doreian and Tom Wills one each in addition to Barling and Wilson’s singles.
Liam Podhajski, supported by the returning Courtney, battled Williamstown’s former AFL listed Giant
Tom Downie to a standstill in the ruck, with hit outs and clearance broadly even for the day.
For the Seagulls, Teia Miles and Liam Hunt had plenty of the ball (29 and 28 disposals respectively),
and Tom Downie contributed across all categories. Noah’s Gown and Gadsby kicked three and two
goals respectively. Two of Gown’s goals came early in the first quarter when Williamstown took
control of the game.
Statistically, there was not a lot to separate the sides with most categories reflecting the equal time
in possession. However, inferiority in the contest early, turnovers and inefficient ball usage cost the
home side.
The Seagulls kicked six goals in the first quarter and four more in the second, compared to an
inefficient four goals, five behinds from the Ants.
“I think we gave the ball back to them too many times…especially through that first half,” Bullants
Coach Ben Hart said post-match. “We couldn’t control the ball, we couldn’t hang on to it. They were
a little bit stronger in the contest than us and they were able to score on the back of it.”
Attacking defender Matthew King agreed.
“We started pretty slowly, our contest wasn’t great, and we were probably second to the ball,” King
said. “We were able to pick it up in the second half, but it took too long to get going.”
King explained the adjustments at half time which made a difference.
“It was (having) more confidence when we used the ball,” he said. “And each line holding their
hunting territories, which allowed us to create more synergies around the ground (to) move the ball
forward.”
Hart was more encouraged by the second half response from the Bullants which resulted in five
goals to three for the Preston side.
“We challenged them (at half time) about playing the Preston way and that this is our home ground,
and putting our flag in the ground a little bit, because it was going the other way.”

The game was highlighted by high marking, including a mark of the year contenders from Seagulls
Joel Ottavi and Corey Preston, and impressive goal kicking.
Smith’s first goal represented more of a martial art move as he intercepted an errant back pass from
Williamstown and, whilst battling for possession with his defender, karate kicked the ball through for
a goal with the outside of his boot.
Smith and Velissaris later kicked long, sailing goals from set shots at the Preston Market end, and the
Bullants Wilson, and the Seagulls Miles and Daly Andrews, all finished impressive shots from tight
angles under pressure.
And a 55-metre goal on the run from Mackenzie Doreian which bounced through was also a
highlight for the Preston side.
As with most games this season, the Ants are not uncompetitive at this level.
“There’s enough evidence…that, when we play the brand that we want to, it stacks up,” Hart said.
“Now, we haven’t been able to do that for four quarters – we haven’t been able to do that for full
quarters even – during the year. There’s things to like but we have got to get better.”
Hart is focussed on the run home and leaving a constructive platform to build from starting with a
night game in Frankston on Friday, July 15 th .
But first, the bye.
“(His message)…is to have a rest – it has been a tough year,” Hart said. “We’ve still got time to leave
a legacy for 2022 – and that is how we go about it for the next five games. I want them to rest up
and get their heads right, and get clear on the processes, and continue to get better at them, and
hopefully they come back and attack the last five rounds with a bit of gusto.”
Goals: Velissaris 3, Smith 2, Barling, Doreian, Mills, Wilson
Best: Barling, Mitchell, Velissaris, Wilson, Podhajski