KANGAROO Flat bounced back from an eight-point deficit midway through the last quarter to boot the last four goals of the day and beat South Bendigo by 16 points.
The Bloods were super competitive all afternoon at Bendigo Mazda Oval.
They led by two goals at quarter time, were within 10 points at the long break and trailed by just five points at three-quarter time.
But a procession of South defenders couldn’t hold Trent McInnes. He booted five goals including one of the match’s vital final three as the Roos won 17.6 (108) to 14.8 (92).
One of the most absorbing individual battles was the ruck contest between South’s Kieran Strachan and Flat’s Nick Lang.
There wasn’t much in it as both big men banged out ruck tapdowns and fed off handballs to running teammates.
Three minutes in Lang steered home the first goal of the day. South added the closing three majors of the first term with Brayden Torpy and Charles Trotman on target as the Bloods raced out to a 12-point advantage.
The Roos came back hard in the second term, piling on six goals to two.
Cam Rinaldi hammered home three set shots in a row and when Rhys Healey finished off a chain of handballs suddenly the Flat was 11 points up.
But as they did match-long the Bloods responded. Leroy Miller scooped up a great diving mark and eased home a pressure goal at the scoreboard end.
Isaiah Miller followed up with a crisp set shot from centre half-forward and South was back in front: 7.3 to 7.2.
McInnes speared home two Flat goals, the second on the half-time siren as the Roos sneaked out to a 10-point lead.
South’s Liam Bartels landed the first and final goals of the third stanza but the Flat’s Marty Kelly, who also drilled two majors, equalled his output.
Mitch Rogerson snapped a team lifter for the Bloods from the goal square yet the Roos still went to the last change five points up.
Final term goals to Isaiah Miller and Torpey handed South a two-point lead and when Bartels nailed his third the Bloods suddenly were in front by eight points.
With time running out a fine running major from the timekeepers’ box flank by Flat’s gun recruit Lance Oswald was the goal-of-the day. That was followed by a captain’s goal from Corey Greer – a set shot from roughly the same spot – and the Roos were home.
Greer and Oswald were match-defining midfield playmakers for Flat. They were prominent in each quarter even though Rogerson, Blair Whelan and Matt Chisari worked hard all day to run with them.
Flat coach Jason Stevens said the tight game reflected the evenness between the middle clubs in the BFNL structure.
“Our boys need to realise that anybody in senior Bendigo footy can beat anybody else on their day. We know two weeks ago South beat Kyneton, which is around our mark on the ladder, so their best footy is as good as anyone’s going around.
“But having said that for us to be headed and respond back the way we did is a really positive sign.
“Clearly we didn’t play our best footy but we got the four premiership points at the end. Now we’ve got double the amount of wins we have losses: eight wins, four losses.”
Stevens said he believed McInnes’ haul of five goals was probably his best personal tally in green and white colours.
South coach Brady Childs said the positive to come out of the match was the fact that the Bloods could clearly match it with the top sides.
“It means, though, that we’ve got do that – matching it with them – for longer.
“We’ve also got to identify those lapse periods (during our match reviews) and see what we can do to try and eliminate them,” Childs said.
Kangaroo Flat 3.2 9.2 12.5 17.6 (108)
South Bendigo 5.2 7.4 11.6 14.8 (92)
Goals – Kangaroo Flat: Trent McInnes 5, Cam Rinaldi 3, Corey Greer 2, Marty Kelly 2, Isaac Douthie, Nick Lang, Mitch Hough, Lance Oswald, Rhys Healey. South Bendigo: Brayden Torpey 3, Isaiah Miller 3, Liam Bartels 3, Mitch Rogerson, Cohen Balnaves, Josh Whelan, Leroy Miller, Charles Trotman.
Best – Kangaroo Flat: Lance Oswald, Corey Greer, Trent McInnes, Marty Kelly, Matt Wiegard, Nick Lang, Shannon Broadbent. South Bendigo: Liam Bartels, Matt Chisari, Blair Whelan, Kieran Strachan, Jack Nalder, Mitch Rogerson.
EAGLEHAWK scored the biggest upset of the season downing ladder leaders Strathfieldsaye at Canterbury Park.
The sixth-placed Hawks sent the Storm tumbling from top place to third with their unexpected 30-point win.
The home team led by 28 points at the final change before the Storm’s stirring comeback saw them trim the gap to 10 points.
But with Ron Best Medal-winning spearhead Matt Gretgrix showing the way the Hawks nailed five of the concluding seven goals of the game.
Gretgrix finished with six majors.
SANDHURST leapt to the top of the BFNL ladder thumping hapless Gisborne by 149 points.
No matter that the Graveyard Dogs had ageing dual Michelsen Medallist Matt Fitzgerald back from overseas they managed just one goal for the whole day.
The Dragons laid 86 tackles for the game, had 14 individual goalkickers with Lee Coghlan and Seb Green on three apiece heading the list while the club welcomed back Collingwood’s VFL-listed Lachlan Tardrew.
KYNETON bolstered its percentage by almost 12 per cent following a 129-point victory over cellar dweller Maryborough.
Fifth-placed Kyneton needed a huge win to place their percentage on a roughly similar level to Kangaroo Flat (4th) and Eaglehawk (6th).
The Tigers are now just 2.02 per cent adrift of the Roos and 2.61 per cent behind the Hawks.
Key forward Mitch Scholard nailed nine goals for the Tigers — his second nine-goal haul against Maryborough this season — but at the other end of the Showgrounds Magpie spearhead Andrew Siekai speared home four.
GOLDEN Square extended its winning streak over Castlemaine to 22 with a six-goal victory – but it was a hard-fought win.
The Bulldogs extended their three-quarter time margin from 27 points to as much as 63 and 64 points before the Magpies snagged six of the final seven goals of the day.
Earlier on the Maine had battled back to within 14 points three times in the third term before Dylan Johnstone (7 goals), Ryan Herring (5) and AFL country Victoria midfielder Tom Toma (3) answered the challenge.
Rhys Ford was the catalyst for Castlemaine in the final term. He banged home four of his five goals in the last stanza to cut the final deficit to 36 points.
Final scores: Sandhurst 23.21 (159) def. Gisborne 1.4 (10), Eaglehawk 15.17 (107) def. Strathfieldsaye 11.11 (77), Golden Square 20.15 (135) def. Castlemaine 15.9 (99) and Kyneton 27.17 (179) def. Maryborough 7.8 (50).
Top Five: Sandhurst 10 wins-2 losses, 40 points, 234%; Golden Square 10-2, 40, 198%; Strathfieldsaye 10-2, 40, 166%; Kangaroo Flat 8-4, 32, 128%; Kyneton 7-5, 28, 126%.
Outside the 5: Eaglehawk 6-6, 24, 128.9 %; Castlemaine 5-7, 20, 77%.
Leading goalkickers: Mitchell Scholard (Kyn) 9, 56; Matt Gretgrix (Eh) 6, 55; Dylan Johnstone (GS) 7, 46; Ben Weightman (Kyn) 5, 38; Rhys Ford (Cm) 5, 36; Ryan Herring (GS) 5, 35.
Round 13 (all Saturday): Gisborne vs. E’hawk, Kyneton vs. Kang. Flat, South Bendigo vs. G. Square, Castlemaine vs. Sandhurst and Maryborough vs. Strathfieldsaye.