SANDHURST firmed into unbackable BFL flag favourites with a commanding 53-point second semi-final win over Golden Square on Saturday night.
Scoring their third 2016 season victory over the Bulldogs the Dragons controlled the big match with a huge Queen Elizabeth Oval crowd looking on.
With defenders Hamish Leahy and Braidon Blake shutting down key Square tall forwards Dylan Johnstone and Ryan Herring, the Dogs managed a meagre four goals for the evening.
In comparison the Hurst bagged 13 majors including five to one in the closing quarter.
Inspirational midfielder Kristan Height bagged three goals with four teammates adding two apiece: Koe Ngawati, Matt ‘Bear’ Thornton, Adam Parry and Pascale Craig.
EAGLEHAWK came from behind and despite some early inaccuracy ran over the Strathfieldsaye Storm to book a preliminary final berth against Golden Square this Saturday.
The Hawks didn’t hit the front until early in Sunday’s knockout first semi-final last term, but managed to catapult the Storm out of the BFL finals series in straight sets with their one-goal victory.
Shaun Knott booted four goals for the Hawks in a best afield Sunday afternoon display.
He not only took strong overhead marks at centre half-forward but drifted into the back half to haul in some match-saving pack grabs.
Brad Stringer, brother of the Western Bulldogs’ Jake, also nailed four goals. He was clearly Storm’s most productive forward with brothers Kallen and Shannon Geary trying their hardest to inspire the Storm.
Once again, Eaglehawk’s miserly defence was outstanding. Captain Tim Hill, playmaker Glenn Daly, Tyler Miles and Brenton ‘Fish’ Conforti were all in outstanding touch although starting out in uncharacteristic indecisive fashion.
It was a sad end to the Storm’s finals campaign. They’d won the BFL’s 2014 and 2015 flags.
AROUND the traps and Bridgewater won their seventh consecutive Loddon Valley league premiership – a LVFL record streak – downing Mitiamo by 50 points.
The Mean Machine also extended their winning run to 30 handing out a second consecutive Big Dance defeat to the Superoos.
It was the middle two quarters which set up the win. Bridgewater added 13.5 to 5.8 during the second and third terms, and led 100-goal Mitiamo playing coach Justin ‘Harry’ Maddern to bemoan his players’ alleged lack of fitness.
He implored his teammates to turn up to pre-season summer training from day one following the inevitable after-footy winddown.
Bridgewater’s Zeb Broadbent added the best-on-ground grand final medal to his 2016 Harding Medal as the LVFL’s fairest and best player.
Alex Galea, Brad Rohde and Andrew Collins all booted four goals for the Mean Machine. Dougie Thomas nailed three for Mitiamo.
It was preliminary final weekend in the North Central and Maryborough Castlemaine leagues where minor premiers Wycheproof-Narraport booked another NCFL clash with Charlton while Carisbrook and Navarre cemented their spots in next weekend’s MCDFL grand final at Princes Park.
Corey Jones turned on a master class in the North Central prelim final bagging 10 goals for Wychepoof-Narraport.
He snagged only one major in the first quarter then added three more in the second, four in the third and two in the last to virtually outscore the Bulls off his own boot.
And the Demons needed the ex-North Melbourne star. Birchip-Watchem had scooted clear to an 18-point lead in the second stanza before Wyche levelled up the scores at 6.2 (38) apiece by the long break.
Final scores: Sandhurst 13.8 (86) def. Golden Square 4.9 (33); Eaglehawk 9.15 (69) def. Strathfieldsaye 9.9 (63); Bridgewater 19.12 (126) def. Mitiamo 10.16 (76); Wycheproof-Narraport 17.6 (108) def. Birchip-Watchem 9.5 (59); Carisbrook 17.19 (121) def. Natte Bealiba 5.2 (32) and Navarre 15.10 (100) def. Royal Park 7.6 (48).
This weekend’s matches
BFL preliminary final, QEO, 3.20 pm, Saturday: Golden Square vs. Eaglehawk. North Central grand final, Saturday at St. Arnaud’s Lord Nelson Park: Charlton vs. Wycheproof-Narraport.
Sunday, Maryborough-Castlemaine Football League grand final at Princes Park, Maryborough: Carisbrook vs. Navarre.
Local Bendigo community station 101.5 Fresh-FM will broadcast Sunday’s MCDFL grand final to add to their district leagues’ coverage of the 2016 Heathcote and Loddon Valley play-offs.