GOLDEN Square recorded their 31st consecutive win over Kangaroo Flat on Saturday evening but it didn’t come easily with the Roos determined to battle out every contest.
A huge opening night crowd at Bendigo Mazda Oval watched spellbound as new Flat signing Rhys Healey nailed three goals in the opening 11 minutes.
Had his teammates been as accurate as Healey the Bulldogs would have been left far behind. However by the first change the wasteful Roos had managed 4.9 and their lead was only 27 points.
Led by dynamic midfielder Tom Toma the Square was far better organised when it was their turn with the four to five goal wind favouring the scoreboard end and they eventually eased home 13.12 (90) to the Flat’s 10.16 (76).
The Bulldogs knew they needed an upsurge in energy in the second term to get back on level playing terms.
Enter Tom Toma. With the lights taking effect Hamish Morcom drilled the Square’s second goal of the match with two majors to Toma –- he finished with five – slashing the Flat’s lead to eight points: 4.1 to 4.9.
Majors to Adrian McErvale and Dylan Johnstone, with the first of his four goals for the night, snatched the lead for the Dogs before Simon Davies drilled just the second goal of the match at the Station Street end.
Davies’ goal handed the Roos a one-point advantage but it was shortlived as hard-running Adam Baird handed Square the lead at the long break with an accurate snap.
The most crucial goals of the night were landed by Square in the third term. Against the wind Toma curled home a superb snap and followed up with another after a pinpoint Johnstone handball found him in the clear.
Scores were all tied up at the 17-minute mark before Marty Kelly took a Chris Novak boundary throw-in tap and goaled to give the Roos a slender six-point margin at the last break.
Again, it was Toma and Johnstone who sparked the Square. Midfielders Jack Geary and Simon Rosa who each ran hard both ways, along with key defender Brayden Dorrington who match-long speared the ball down the corridor, kept pushing the Square forward.
Adrian McErvale, Johnstone (2) and Toma, with a snap off his left boot when he collected a loose ball, iced the four premiership points for the Square.
Coach Nick Carter was delighted with his side’s fightback. “Flat had won all the contested footy early and we hadn’t reacted quickly enough to stem the flow.
“Obviously the guys had a real crack in the second quarter The third quarter was probably the most pleasing for me as against the breeze we kicked a couple to leave us in a good position coming home.
“We know where we’re at and like everyone else we still have a lot of work to do, Carter said.
Flat coach Jason Stevens said it was a terribly disappointing result considering all the opportunities the team enjoyed.
“We wasted so many opportunities it was really frustrating. We won’t be looking back to this game too favourably,” he said.
Stevens said the old adage that bad kicking is bad football was clear to everyone in the Flat camp when the final siren sounded. Premier midfielder Lance Oswald was a late withdrawal which had been a real blow, he added.
Golden Square 1.0 7.3 9.8 13.12 (90)
Kangaroo Flat 4.9 5.11 9.14 10.16 (76)
Goals – Golden Square: Tom Toma 5, Dylan Johnstone 4, Adrian McErvale 2, Hamish Morcom, Adam Baird. Kangaroo Flat: Rhys Healey 3, Jarryd Wiegard 2, Corey Greer. Tom Holman, Simon Davies, Marty Kelly, Jayke Barrack.
Best – Golden Square: Tom Toma (best on ground), Dylan Johnstone, Adam Baird, Jack Geary, Brayden Dorrington, Simon Rosa, Adrian McErvale. Kangaroo Flat: Rhys Healey, Tom Holman, Jayke Barrack, Corey Greer, Marty Kelly and Hunter Lloyd.
Golden Square’s Travis Baird was yellow carded, third quarter, and is on report.
AROUND the grounds and the Strathfieldsaye Storm served early notice it’s again the team to beat for the 2016 BFNL flag.
The Storm doubters, including your scribe, were out in force over summer when Strathfielsaye lost a swag of premiership players.
Included in the ‘outs’ were key forwards Sam Mildren and Matt Ferguson, along with 2014 century goalkicker, Stephen Milne.
There’s around 120-130 goals down the tube right there, it was said.
But the Storm put major rivals the Sandhurst Dragons to the sword in Sunday’s grand final re-match with an all-the-way 32-point victory.
In front of a vast crowd at their Tannery Lane home ground the Storm found avenues to goal through ruckman Michael Pilcher and livewire small forward Lachie Sharp. They each nailed four goals.
Strathfieldsaye’s ‘new’ centre half-forward Harry Conway was in blistering early season form with his strong hands in overhead marking contests and his supreme athleticism.
The Dragons were physical, led by tough skipper Blair Holmes who crunched rival skipper Shannon Geary at least twice, but they struggled to take a grab forward of the centre.
CASTLEMAINE christened its new Camp Reserve lights with a 70-point thumping of Maryborough on Saturday evening while final five contender Kyneton disposed of Gisborne after a tight struggle.
The Maine Magpies led by just three goals at the long break but booted 11 majors to three in the second half. The trio of Mark ‘Rambo’ Ramsey, Chris McKnight and returning spearhead Tallan Wright all contributed four goals.
The Gisborne Dogs were within 14 points at the last change down at the Tigers’ Showgrounds lair before Kyneton slammed home four goals to two in the final 30 minutes.
Up forward Ron Best Medal goalkicking favourite Ben Weightman nailed five goals with full-forward Mitchell Scholard adding four.
Teenager Jack Scanlon made an outstanding senior debut for Gisborne booting six goals at full-forward.
On a sour note Kyneton lost recruit Jonno Nash to a shoulder injury.
And in perhaps the biggest upset of the opening round Eaglehawk overturned all the pre-season hype with a 49-point trouncing of expected improvers South Bendigo.
All the off-season talk had been that the Bloods would push for a Top Five berth which had belonged to the Hawks in 2015.
It might not happen going on the weekend’s result. The Two Blues still have one of the best re-bounding backlines in the BFNL and any win against them this season will be a good one.
Small forward Damian Wust played perhaps his best game at senior level, nailing three Eaglehawk majors and having a hand in at least four others.
Former Carlton midfielder Anthony Franchina played his first game for Eaglehawk on Saturday and landed one goal.
He didn’t know much about the playing styles of his new teammates but the 38-year-old showed he’ll be a valuable acquisition for the Hawks.
It was a coaching debut to forget for South’s Brady Childs who seems likely to be sidelined with injury for much of 2016. He ran the ship from the box in his first outing.
After plenty of good signs in the practice match rounds, the Bloods struggled to find any flow at all. They registered just 12 scoring shots to the Hawks’ 31.
Eaglehawk senior mentor Luke Monaghan said his players and staff had taken little notice of pre-season write-offs by the footy media.
“Inside the club we’re confident and comfortable with our abilities. We know we have great depth – our reserves were grand finalists last season and our under-18s made the 2015 finals.
“It seems we get written off quite a few times going into the seasons proper,” he said.
Final scores: Kyneton 16.18 (114) def. Gisborne 12.10 (82), Eaglehawk 12.19 (91) def. South Bendigo 6.6 (42), Castlemaine 19.14 (128) def. Maryborough 8.10 (58) and Strath Storm 15.12 (102) def. Sandhurst 10.10 (70).
Round 2: Eaglehawk vs. Kang. Flat, Kyneton vs. South Bendigo and Sandhurst vs. Maryborough – all Saturday.
Anzac Day evening: Gisborne vs. Golden Square (4.20 pm, Monday) and Castlemaine vs. Strathfieldsaye (5.15 pm).