Bendigo Football League
SOUTH Bendigo leapt to top spot on the BFNL senior ladder following a heart-stopping two-point win over Kyneton on Saturday. At a packed Harry Trott Oval where the brand new netball courts were unveiled the Bloods ensured the Tigers would topple from first down to fourth after scores had been level at three-quarter time. And they were all locked up again on 103 points apiece 20 minutes into the final term.
The Bloods who registered seven more scoring shots finally eased home 15.16 (106) to Kyneton’s 16.8 (104). A sloppy conversion rate early almost brought South undone.
From 11 shots at the scoreboard end in the first term the Bloods nailed just four goals.
When the Tigers had their turn at the favoured end they landed 7.2 in a scintillating second stanza. That handed the visitors a four-point half-time lead. Promoted under-18 player Dylan Holden (replacing Max O’Sullivan) nailed three of his four goals in the first half while dynamic on-baller Rhys Magin drilled two set shots from wide out on the half-forward flanks.
South had been forced to recast their forward line when prolific goalkicker Kaiden Antonowitz limped off with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He didn’t return loading extra pressure onto Daniel Johnstone and Jake Smythe. Johnstone stood up well, booting three goals and providing contests across half-forward all match. The Bloods’ earlier inaccuracy was gone as they drilled five goals straight in the third quarter. Considering how close the scores were the Tigers’ concentration wavered midway through the term as they allowed South coach Brady Childs to nail two point-blank majors. The first came from a 50m penalty which landed Childs in the goal square and the second – without the ball returning to the centre for a ball-up – from the identical spot.
The Childs’ majors took the lead out to 13 points and after another South goal, the Tigers were 19 points down. Then Kyneton goals to Mitchell Scholard, Weightman and Holden reduced the margin to one point before a bouncing shot from Weightman rolled into the post as the three-quarter time siren sounded. Even so, the Tigers still had no counter for dominant South ruckman Kieran Strachan. His hitouts and boundary taps continually fed Bloods’ runners in Liam Bartels, Aaron Connaughton and Joel Swatton and Strachan marked any ball which strayed into his vicinity.
Tigers’ midfielders Billy Mahoney, Magin and Ethan Foreman were forced to anticipate the direction of Strachan’s taps if they wanted to snare a first possession.
South Bendigo hammered home three of the first four final quarter goals as Smythe, Brad Wright (moved forward from defence) and Isaiah Miller took the lead out to 16 points. Still the Tigers weren’t done. They levelled the scores at the 20-minute mark with Weightman’s fourth goal the key to their revival. Minor scores from set shots to South’s Smythe and Wright sealed the victory as time ran out for the Tigers.
Bloods’ coach Childs said it was pleasing his side had laid 93 tackles and kept running when an interchange short. “To win after Kaiden (Antonowitz) went down very early shows we’re starting to mature. We didn’t panic, really trusted our structures and kept working hard.”
South Bendigo 4.7 7.11 12.11 15.16 (106)
Kyneton 2.1 9.3 13.5 16.8 (104)
Goals – South Bendigo: Daniel Johnstone 3, Brad Wright 2, Brady Childs 2, Blair Whelan, Isaiah Miller, Alex Hywood, Tom Brereton, Liam Bartels, Jake Smythe, Will Keck, Kaiden Antonowitz. Kyneton: Ben Weightman 4, Dylan Holden 4, Mitchell Scholard 3, Nicholas Brazil 2, Rhys Magin 2, Ethan Foreman.
Best – South Bendigo: Kieran Strachan (best afield), Aaron Connaughton, Isaiah Miller, Liam Bartels, Joel Swatton, Nick Howe. Kyneton: Rhys Magin, Billy Mahoney, Dylan Holden, Michael Hourigan, Taylor Kelly, Nicholas Brazil.
SANDHURST won the other Round 5 Top Four battle accounting for Eaglehawk by 27 points at the QEO. Wayne Mitrovic, 39, finally played his 100th game for the Dragons. The 2004 premiership year skipper had returned to family and work at Macorna in 2008 after 98 games for the Hurst. The Hawks got within 15 points of the Dragons midway through the final term after trailing by six goals at the last change. Andrew Collins, Bendigo’s best against Ballarat a week earlier, kicked four goals for Sandhurst, had a hand in three others and consistently brought teammates into play with pinpoint disposals. On-ballers Ben McPhee and Brodie Collins collected their fair share of contested footy for the Hawks while spearhead Matt Gretgrix returned to form with five goals.
STRATHFIELDSAYE posted a massive 195-point win over struggling Maryborough at Triple M Park with sharpshooter Lachie Sharp nailing 14 goals. He’s leapt to the top of the BFNL goalkicking table with 39 majors from five outings. The Storm had an absolute picnic posting a club record score and eclipsing their previous best – against Kyneton in August 2012 –- by nine points. Maryborough has now lost 43 games in a row with the Storm loss the sixth time in their past 22 matches they’ve lost by 190 points, or more. Strath centreman Trent Donnan was outstanding for the home club while regular defender Fergus Payne played forward and nailed four goals
KANGAROO Flat won their first home game at Bendigo Mazda Oval for 2017 with an 87-point trouncing of Castlemaine. The Roos restricted the Magpies to just a single goal in the first half while racking up nine of their own. The Maine did improve after half-time but the Roos had too much firepower with Charlie Bowyer and Jack Bower booting five majors each. Co-coach Corey Greer bobbed up with four. Tough utility Rhys Jenkins was Castlemaine’s best in another disappointing effort from the Pies.
GOLDEN Square convincingly won the Battle of the Bulldogs at MyJet Oval posing their biggest score for 2017 against Gisborne. Like Gretgrix, Square full-forward Dylan Johnstone returned to form bagging eight goals. Adam Baird (46 possessions, 4 goals) was a Square standout along with Tom Toma (35 touches). Gisborne conceded seven goals to none in the opening term and from then on the only interest was how big Golden Square’s eventual margin would be. Best for the visiting Bulldogs were Daniel Weaver and Pat Trotta.
Final scores: Strathfieldsaye 32.19 (211) d Maryborough 2.4 (16), Kang. Flat 19.15 (129) d Castlemaine 6.6 (42), Sandhurst 13.16 (94) d Eaglehawk 9.13 (67) and Golden Square 22.15 (147) d Gisborne 11.8 (74).
Top Five: South Bendigo (4-1), Strathfieldsaye (4-1), Sandhurst (3-1-1), Kyneton (3-1-1), Golden Square (3-2).
Next week, Round 6: Castlemaine v Strathfieldsaye, Kyneton v Kangaroo Flat, South Bendigo v Sandhurst (for the Graeme Wright Memorial Cup), Maryborough v Golden Square. Sunday: Eaglehawk v Gisborne.