GOLDEN Square won its way into the 2016 Bendigo Football League’s grand final with a come-from-behind 19-point preliminary final win over Eaglehawk on Saturday.
At a packed Queen Elizabeth Oval the Bulldogs fought back from a deficit of 16 points at the last change to down a gallant Eaglehawk.
The Hawks had made all the early running with spearhead Matt Gretgrix slotting four first term goals at the city end — the end favoured all day by a three-to-four-goal breeze.
And they still led with just a quarter to play holding the Square scoreless in the vital third term.
But then the Dogs’ midfield leaders Simon Rosa and skipper Jack Geary kept continually pumping the ball into their front half and Square banged home five goals to nil to clinch their grand final berth.
In a welcome return to form centre half-forward Ryan ‘Fish’ Herring booted three majors and took eight marks after a recent lean spell. Two of Herring’s majors came in the vital last term onslaught.
Square will play season-long flag favourites and old rivals Sandhurst this Saturday.
Their draining finals campaign might have taken the edge off Eaglehawk’s run as Saturday’s last quarter unfolded.
They’d been outstanding for the first three quarters with their first term burst of five majors placing the Bulldogs on the back foot.
By half-time the Square had reduced the deficit to two points – 6.7 (43) to 7.3 (45) – before the Two Blues burst clear again.
But a two-goal return with the wind in the third term just wasn’t enough. Champion midfielders Rosa and Geary kept the Dogs in the game throughout the third term and then sparked their side in the vital final quarter.
Geary capped off a top game with a vital goal.
He won the ball on the grandstand wing and kicked the Square into attack. Willing himself to the next contest the Bulldogs’ co-captain got to the loose ball in the scoreboard forward pocket, picked up the loose ball and slotted a team-lifting 30m major on the run.
His co-captain Brayden Dorrington, feisty at times, was rock solid across half-back and turned many Eaglehawk attacks.
Interestingly, the top four players for Eaglehawk were all defenders: teenager Lachie Atherton who was great in the last line, Tyler Miles, skipper Tim Hill and playmaker Glenn Daly.
Golden Square 2.4 6.7 6.7 11.13 (79)
Eaglehawk 5.1 7.3 9.5 9.6 (60)
Goals – Golden Square: Ryan Herring 3, Simon Rosa, Jack Geary, Adam Baird, Chris Ryan, Jake Thrum, Riley Saunders, Hamish Morcom, Comanche Walls. Eaglehawk: Matt Gretgrix 4, Brock Rogers, Damian Wust, Jesse Collins, Matt Filo, Gedd Hommelhoff.
Best – Golden Square: Simon Rosa (best on ground), Jack Geary, Brayden Dorrington, Jake Thrum, Tom Toma, Adam Baird. Eaglehawk: Lachie Atherton, Tyler Miles, Tim Hill, Glenn Daly, Damian Wust, Brock Rogers.
IN a first for Bendigo footy, the under-16 grand final of the Bendigo Junior Footy League was played as the very early Saturday curtain-raiser.
It was a 9 am start for the keen young lads of the Sandhurst-Marist Dockers and Kangaroo Flat teams with hundreds of parents, family members and players from rival clubs on hand in the historic QEO grandstand.
In the end the premiership trophy was taken home by the Dockers who triumphed by 32 points: 11.6 (72) to the Flat’s 5.10 (40).
Around the traps and Charlton broke a string of losing North Central league grand final appearances to win at their fourth attempt.
The Navies triumphed by seven points over Wycheproof- Narraport, in the process holding Demons star Corey Jones to just three majors.
He’d booted 10 goals in Wyche’s big preliminary final win over Birchip-Watchem.
Considering the town had been under flood watch all week as the Avoca River burst its banks, Charlton’s win helped to erase the bitter memories of their 2013-14-15 grand final losses, one of them in an extra time heart-breaker.
Navies’ coach Aaron Walklate won the Des Darcy best afield medal. His Charlton teammate Thomas Finlay took home the AFL Central Victoria Medal.
Walklate played most of the second half with a bandaged head.
Navarre comfortably won their fourth, consecutive Maryborough Castlemaine League premiership thumping Carisbrook by 41 points on Sunday.
We drove over to Maryborough’s Princes Park for a look. But it was almost a no-contest by quarter-time with the Grasshoppers booting four majors, using the breeze which favoured the scoreboard end, to a single from Carisbrook.
True, the Redbacks did close the margin to five points at the 17-minute mark of the second term – 3.4 to 4.3 – but Navarre allowed Carisbrook just one more goal for the rest of the grand final.
And two crucial goals against the wind from Navarre’s Cody Driscoll and Jesse Hannett handed the Hoppers a 17-point half-time lead: 6.3 to 3.4.
Then four Navarre third quarter majors put the game beyond Carisbrook’s reach. Former coaches in Ben Martin and Daniel Parkin were two of the third term scorers, with current co-coach Ashley Driscoll and Cody Driscoll adding the others.
Best on ground medals went to Navarre midfielders Sam Kaye and Louis Hannett.
BFL preliminary final scores, under 18s: Strathfieldsaye 20.24 (144) Golden Square 4.1 (25). Reserves: Golden Square 13.11 (89) Kangaroo Flat 8.5 (53).
North Central FL grand final: Charlton 10.10 (70) Wycheproof-Narraport 9.9 (63).
Maryborough Castlemaine DFL grand final: Navarre 10.12 (72) Carisbrook 4.7 (31).
And the BFL’s fairest and best awards for 2016 were won by Sandhurst’s Kristan Height in football’s Michelsen Medal and by Strathfieldsaye Storm’s Brianna Dalrymple-Monro in the A grade netball Betty Thompson Medal count.
It was a significant win for 33-year-old Height. He became the first player to win these three major league medals: the Michelsen medal, the Morris Medal in the Ovens and Murray league and the Morrison Medal in the Goulburn Valley Football League.
In another twist to Sunday’s vote count evening, Dalrymple-Monro’s twin sister Erica won the Holborn Medal in the A Reserve netball.
BFL grand finals, Saturday at the QEO, football – seniors: Sandhurst vs Golden Square. Reserves: Sandhurst vs Golden Square. Under-18s: Sandhurst vs Strathfieldsaye.
A grade netball: Kangaroo Flat vs Golden Square.