CASTLEMAINE handed South Bendigo the unwanted 2014 wooden spoon with a comprehensive six-goal win at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday. With seven young Magpies still eligible for under-18 football, the visitors had too much leg speed and rebound ability for the sluggish Bloods in the battle between the two bottom clubs.
Eight-goal salvos with the breeze at the Barnard Street end in both the first and third quarters by the pacy Magpies put the game well beyond South’s reach by three-quarter-time. To their credit the Bloods came with a rush in the final quarter nailing six goals to two, but it was the Magpies who prevailed in the 19.12 (126) to 13.12 (90) victory. With young star Ben Leech, skipper Zach Hansford and Brian Mustafa continually firing the ball inside 50, the Pies had four goals on the board before the Bloods scored. Leech contributed two of the openers on the way to a five-goal haul for the day. His second, with an around-the-body snap, was a ripper. Finally at the 13-minute mark, South’s Josh Whelan marked and goaled but this only spurred the Magpies on.
Jason Cordy, unbeatable overhead at centre half-forward all match, was the focal point as Klai Jermyn (2), Mustafa and spearhead Tallan Wright banged home four more Castlemaine majors. South Bendigo did manage to reduce the margin to just under three goals by half-time. Captain Aaron Connaughton and Daniel Frew drove the ball out of the stoppages allowing Mitch Hocking (2), Luke Crawford and Connaughton himself to drill majors at the Barnard Street end. When defender Michael Tonkin drifted downfield and was clear when the advantage rule was applied his goal 30 seconds from siren time left the Magpies just 17 points up.
Castlemaine then went on another goal-scoring spree as the third term opened. Hansford, who was inspirational across half-back and midfield, nailed a goal as he bent back his shot with the breeze. Moments later he found the hard-running Leech who broke a South defensive tackle and drove home his third major. South was in deep trouble and it took hard work from Charles Trotman and then Crawford with a major to revive the Bloods’ hopes. The challenge served only to spur the Magpies on. Five more majors before the last change kick-started by a thumping 50m set shot from Tallan Wright and followed up by a Kane Timmins goal, capping off a coast-to-coast Castlemaine move, left South 61 points adrift at three-quarter time.
The Bloods did show some fight in the final term as Rory Alexander and Justin Bice (2 goals) presented strongly in the front half. It took the Magpies until the 20-minute mark to land a major when the busy Kalan Huntly goaled, capitalizing on lead-up work from John Watson and Wright. Leech finished off a top day’s work when he marked a Mustafa long ball at the top of the goal square and calmly drilled his fifth major.
Magpie coach Shane Robertson said he was impressed with the way his players had bounced out of the blocks and put a big score on the board. “Having so many young players in the side brings in that extra bit of enthusiasm we needed,” he said. “And even though we had a great quarter-time lead we fluctuated a fair bit throughout the course of the game. In the second term we went to sleep a bit and allowed South back into the game. “But then to get back on track in the third quarter was excellent,” Robertson said. The coach added it had been a deliberate policy at Castlemaine to give young players the opportunities to play senior footy. “We want them to see what it’s all about. The pace of the game can be talked about but until you experience senior football you don’t know. “Our crop will be all the better over the summer (training months) for it,” Robertson said.
South co-coach Peter Tyack said it had been bitterly disheartening to let the Magpies start with an eight-goal first term. “We knew they’d started well against us back in the first round so to let that happen again was really disappointing. “They’ve got some good young, quick players right across the ground and they took the game on from the start. We weren’t able to match them and we weren’t up to the pace and it certainly cost us. By three-quarter-time we spoke about keeping on running to get something out of the contest and to the players’ credit they did do that,” Tyack said.
Match statistics – Inside 50s: South Bendigo 55, Castlemaine 49. Marks inside 50: South 18, Castlemaine 16. Centre clearances: South 19, Castlemaine 11. Free kicks: South 24, Castlemaine 17.
The loss, leaving the Bloods anchored on just two wins going into the final home and away round against flag favourites Strathfieldsaye, means South will claim their first BFL wooden spoon in almost half-a-century: since 1965, in fact. Now on three wins Castlemaine has climbed out of the cellar. The Pies play fourth-placed Golden Square this coming Saturday.
Castlemaine 8.3 9.5 17.10 19.12 (126)
South Bendigo 1.0 6.6 7.9 13.12 (90)
Goals – Castlemaine: Ben Leech 5, Tallan Wright 3, Klai Jermyn 3, Brian Mustafa 2, Jason Cordy 2, Kalan Huntly 2, Zach Hansford, Kane Timmins. South Bendigo: Mitch Hocking 2, Luke Crawford 2, Aaron Connaughton 2, Justin Bice 2, Josh Whelan, Daniel Frew, Rory Alexander, Michael Tonkin, Cameron Holdsworth.
Best – Castlemaine: Ben Leech (best on ground), Jason Cordy, Zach Hansford, Tom Horne, Jarryd Graham, Brian Mustafa, Kalan Huntly. South Bendigo: Aaron Connaughton, Daniel Frew, Ben Allen, Ryley Barrack, Joel Swatton, Kieran Strachan.