EAGLEHAWK confounded everyone bar their own supporters with an eight-point win over fancied Golden Square on Saturday.
In only their second 2017 home game at Canterbury Park and in front of a packed brand new pavilion the Hawks answered every Bulldog challenge to collect the four premiership points.
They stayed in touch as the Square unleashed a six goal to three third quarter and after scores had been level twice in a gripping last term they headed the visitors both times.
At the finish it was Eaglehawk’s livewire forward Sean Williams who booted the clutch goal from the timekeepers’ panel flank deep into time-on to ensure the Hawks’ win: 9.12 (66) to 8.10 (58).
The first half, a mish-mash of errors and forgettable footy, ended with Eaglehawk 22 points up thanks to two first term goals from Cameron McGlashan and second term singles to Sam Harper and Sean Williams.
Square just couldn’t get going, stifled by the Hawk defence led by hard-running Brenton Conforti. It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the second term that the Dogs’ Bailey George landed the visitors’ first goal from a set shot.
But then the standard and the excitement lifted. It had taken two complete quarters but the Square finally unshackled themselves from the Hawks’ firm grip.
Led by midfield dynamo Tom Toma, who finished with 41 possessions, the Dogs added 6.5. Harper was on target for Eaglehawk when awarded a 50m penalty before the Square banged home four, unanswered majors.
Dylan Johnstone, feisty Braydon Welsh, Toma and Adam Baird all nailed vital Square goals.
Matt Filo and Williams capitalised on solid on-ball work from coach Josh Bowe and midfielder Scott Hann to land much-needed Eaglehawk majors.
For the second time in the third quarter scores were level when Square’s Johnstone landed his second after dodging around two Hawk defenders.
The intensity and tackling pressure had risen and when big Matt Compston sank his after-the-siren shot at the Simpson’s Road end Square sneaked out to a one-point lead.
But Bowe and his Hawks weren’t going away. Twice scores were level early in the last stanza with two minor scores to Eaglehawk and one to Square.
Busy midfielder Ben McPhee took a handpass from close in at the Simpson’s Road end and his major handed Eaglehawk a seven-point lead: 8.10 to 7.9.
Matt Gretgrix, hampered by injury, could land only an Eaglehawk minor score before Johnstone steered through a vital Square goal from wide out on the parkside flank.
It was a one-point affair once more. Then after a Gretgrix point following a contested mark Williams sealed the Hawks’ win with the most important major of the day.
Playing coach Bowe said it was heartening to see how well his players had responded to Square’s second half challenge.
“Our backline really stood up, especially late when we were under the pump, so it was good to wrest the momentum back after they’d got on top in the third quarter.
“In a few of our games we’ve tended to spray the footy and let the opposition back in. And I was really happy the way we finished proving our fitness is at a good level.”
It was just the second time in their past 23 meetings that the Hawks had beaten the Square.
Eaglehawk 2.4 4.7 7.7 9.12 (66)
Golden Square 0.1 1.3 7.8 8.10 (58)
Goals – Eaglehawk: Sean Williams 3, Sam Harper 2, Cam McGlashan 2, Ben McPhee, Matt Filo. Golden Square: Dylan Johnstone 3, Adam Baird, Braydon Welsh, Bailey George, Matt Compston, Tom Toma.
Best – Eaglehawk: Brendan Conforti (best afield), Josh Bowe, Sam Harper, Scott Hann, Dylan Hanley, Ben McPhee, Sean Williams. Golden Square: Tom Toma, Adam Baird, Jon Coe, Will Lee, Dylan Johnstone and Jordan Rosengren.
KYNETON and Sandhurst fought out the first draw in the 2017 season after the Tigers had led for all bar five minutes of their QEO clash.
The Tigers’ effort against the reigning premiers showed footy followers they’re a club on the rise this year.
It looked like Kyneton’s day when elusive small forward Ben Weightman slotted his fifth major with a banana kick from the South Bendigo rooms pocket.
With just 1:45 left on the clock the Tigers were 12 points up.
But Seb Greene answered for the Dragons with a bouncing on-line shot and from the following centre ball-up Andrew Collins won the clearance.
He hit up the leading Lee Coghlan 35 metres out from goal on the pressbox flank. Coghlan’s set shot split the middle of the big sticks and levelled the scores with 30 seconds to go.
The siren sounded with the ball on the Tigers’ forward flank to mark the BFNL’s first senior draw since 2013.
STRATHFIELDSAYE just outlasted Gisborne to win a pressure cooker match by five points.
The Gardiner Reserve almost lived up to its early 2000s ‘graveyard’ nickname as the Bulldogs went close to stealing the four premiership points from the fancied Storm.
Storm coach Darryl Wilson said although his side led all day they were “very lucky” to escape with the four points with Ryan Baker and Pat Trotta Gisborne’s standouts.
Forward Lachlan Sharp continued his outstanding form for Strathfieldsaye bagging seven goals. But like Gisborne star Clinton Young he also hobbled from the field in the final term with a hamstring injury.
Young and Sharp will both miss this Saturday’s inter-league clash. They won’t be considered for selection in the Bendigo side.
SOUTH Bendigo rose to second spot on the BFNL ladder with an 85-point Saturday night victory at Castlemaine’s Camp Reserve.
The Bloods’ small forward Kaiden Antonowicz had another purple patch with eight majors, following on from his 11-goal haul in round three.
He leads the senior goal-kicking table with 28.
South set up victory with a five goal to none opening term with midfielders Isaiah Miller, Mitch Rogerson and Liam Bartels working just as hard defensively as they did offensively.
Kal Huntly, who looks set to represent the BFNL against Ballarat this weekend was the Maine’s best.
KANGAROO Flat opened their account on Sunday with a crushing 133-point win over Maryborough.
The Princes Park Pies have not won a senior game since 2014.
Led by a nine-goal haul from Charlie Bowyer the Roos snared 13 goals in a dominant third term. The Magpies managed three of their afternoon’s four goals in the third term, also.
Playing against his former club for the first time since leaving the Roos over summer, Maryborough’s Cameron Rinaldi kicked three goals.
Final scores: Kyneton 14.12 (96) drew Sandhurst 13.18 (96), Strathfieldsaye 14.8 (92) def. Gisborne 13.9 (87), South Bendigo 19.18 (132) def. Castlemaine 6.11 (47) and Kangaroo Flat 25.14 (164) def. Maryborough 4.7 (31).
13 May interleague, AFL Victoria 9th ranked league vs 10th ranked: Bendigo vs. Ballarat, QEO, 4 pm.
Curtain-raiser: Heathcote DFL vs. Central Murray, QEO, 1.30 pm. Netball – 1.45: Heathcote vs. Central Murray (Open).
3.10 pm: Bendigo vs Ballarat (Open netball).