Bendigo Football League…
GOLDEN Square withstood an early Castlemaine surge before powering away to an impressive 10-goal win on Saturday.
The Magpies rammed home the first three goals of the game at MyJet Oval and it took the Bulldogs the rest of the opening term to assert their superiority.
The quarter-time siren signalled the end of competitive football for the day. The Bulldogs drilled 10 majors to two in the concluding three quarters to win by 60 points and set themselves for the looming qualifying final.
With Matt Compston in complete control of the ruck battles and Tom Toma, Blayne Ryan-Storey and Travis Baird clearing the ball consistently from midfield and across half-back the Dogs eased home 14.15 (99) to 5.9 (39).
The Maine’s best period of play came in the opening 10 minutes. Ben Leech and Justin Dorward were the linkmen as Jason Cordy (2) and Mark Ramsey nursed home set shots at the Maple Street end.
Down by 18 points, the Bulldogs upped their tempo. James Sullivan, Jack Daley, Shaun Young and Ryan Herring – from a clever around-the-body snap – landed Square goals to hand the home side an 11-point buffer at quarter-time.
Castlemaine wasn’t in the match from then on as it unfolded. The Square added three goals in both the second and third quarters and four in the last while restricting the Magpies to just two more goals for the remainder of play.
The league’s leading under-18 goalkicker Jordan Rosengren booted three goals in his first senior match. His contribution was extremely valuable, given that regular multiple goalkicker Corey Jones was held to just two.
Castlemaine coach Shane Robertson used a few players to shadow Jones. Jarryd Graham and Tom Horne took on the responsibility at various periods of play but other players were also used.
Yet Jones was crucial as a linkman. In the second quarter he picked out Baird who marked the pass and strolled in, unmarked, across the Maple Street end goal square.
Jack Daley was also valuable. Towards the end of the third term, he collected the spillage from a marking duel and raced into goal for his third major of the day.
Rosengren capped off an enterprising first-up performance by taking a fingertip mark early in the last term and hammering home his third goal.
Square coach Nick Carter said Castlemaine had started really well which hadn’t surprised him.
“We expected a bit of a contest and we weren’t urgent enough early on setting up with our structures. They’d kicked three goals before we blinked,” he said.
“It was pleasing that our guys got back in the game after that and we were able to hold them almost goalless for the rest of the day.”
Carter said it was always tough going heading into the final home-and-away round. “You need to stay focused because you know you’re going to be playing the qualifying final the next week. But with all that we believe we got the job done pretty well today,” he said.
Castlemaine coach Shane Robertson, who has been re-appointed for the 2016 season, said despite a disappointing game out on the park at least the club’s major goal had been reached.
“We set ourselves to double our wins tally from last year. So after getting just three wins in 2014 we’ve finished this year with six (wins),” he said.
“Mind you, we can’t just sit back and think that because that’s been achieved there’s been some sort of progress.
“We also set targets of not getting flogged every week like we have in the past and I think we’ve been pretty competitive against the better sides this year,” he said.
As the visiting coach, Robertson took the unusual step of addressing Golden Square’s players as they grouped out on MyJet Oval just after the final siren. He wished them the best of luck for the coming finals series.
Golden Square 4.6 7.9 10.12 14.15 (99)
Castlemaine 3.1 4.3 5.5 5.9 (39)
Goals – Golden Square: Jack Daley 3, Jordan Rosengren 3, Corey Jones 2, Ryan Herring 2, Travis Baird, James Sullivan, Shaun Young, Hamish Morcom. Castlemaine: Jason Cordy 2, Mark Ramsey, Justin Dorward, Jarryd Graham.
Best – Golden Square: Matt Compston (best afield), Tom Toma, Travis Baird, Blayne Ryan-Storey, Corey Jones, Jack Daley. Castlemaine: Andrew Wilson, Kalan Huntly, Justin Dorward, Zach Hansford.
But they suffered a major blow when key on-baller Alex Pollock re-injured a knee in his first game back since round 12.
Eaglehawk’s injury problems seem even more serious. The BFNL’s leading goalkicker Matt Gretgrix limped off Canterbury Park at the 10-minute mark of the opening term and will have scans on Monday on an injured knee.
Gisborne finished off the 2015 season with a big win over the up-and-down Kangaroo Flat on the Roos’ home deck at Bendigo Mazda Oval.
It was a fitting way for the Graveyard Dogs, who finished the season in an unaccustomed sixth spot, to farewell four-time premiership player Ollie Messaoudi.
The hard-as-nails in and under midfielder played his 220th and final game for Gisborne and was fittingly chaired off Bendigo Mazda Oval through a guard of honour to the tune of AC/DC’s ‘TNT’.
But Gisborne will miss the finals for the first time since very early in the 2000s.
Ben Weightman ensured Kyneton would play their first finals game since 2003 with a 10-goal haul against cellar dweller Maryborough.
Weightman finished second behind Gretgrix (82) in the Ron Best Medal goalkicking stakes with 73 majors – a fabulous tally for a small forward.
The Tigers dominated the Princes Park clash leaving Maryborough winless for 2015, although the Magpies’ key forward Matt Bond slotted six goals.
Top team Strathfieldsaye went through the season undefeated accounting for South Bendigo at the suburban Harry Trott Oval by 43 points.
But while they enjoy the first weekend of the finals off, coach Darryl Wilson might think about employing Hawthorn goalkicking coach David Rath.
The Storm landed just 11 goals from 32 scoring shots. Rath was at Sandhurst’s training recently to assist the Dragons’ errant sharp-shooters.
Rath and Sandhurst senior coach Brett Fitzpatrick were former teammates at Castlemaine.
Final scores: Gisborne 18.12 (120) def. Kangaroo Flat 12.10 (82), Sandhurst 17.12 (114) def. Eaglehawk 10.4 (64), Kyneton 21.16 (142) def. Maryborough 12.5 (77), Strath Storm 11.21 (87) def. South Bendigo 6.8 (44).
Top five finishing order: Strath Storm 72, Golden Square 64, Sandhurst 56, Eaglehawk 48, Kyneton 32.
This weekend’s first round of finals, all at the QEO – qualifying final, Saturday night, under lights: Golden Square v Sandhurst. Elimination final, Sunday afternoon: Eaglehawk v Kyneton.