DEFENDING premiers Sandhurst kept their push for a 2017 finals spot alive with a hard-fought nine-point win over arch-rivals South Bendigo on Saturday.
On a rain-swept QEO the Dragons used their first half turn with the four-goal breeze to much better effect than the Bloods.
South wasted their chances kicking to the favoured city end in the second stanza adding just six behinds whereas the Hurst had banged home half-a-dozen majors in the opening quarter.
Sandhurst hung on long enough in a frantic 31-minute final term to win, 12.13 (85) to 11.10 (76).
The Dragons set up their victory with a sparkling opening quarter.
Prime mover Lee Coghlan nailed three majors – two from snaps and the other from a set shot – with South struggling to send the ball inside 50m.
Finally Blair Whelan’s long high shot held up in the breeze but managed to float over the line.
Just before the siren South’s Brock Harvey sent a long ball into the goal square and Liam Bartels grubbered it through.
The Dragons’ defence ruled the second term. They locked in the ball across South’s half-forward line allowing no space for long kicks forward.
And then when the Hurst worked the ball towards the Barnard Street end Andrew Collins twisted and turned and finally snapped a major off his left boot.
There was one positive for South, though. Brad Wright had been moved into attack during the second quarter and he added three goals in a top closing half effort.
Kicking against the wind in the third term South outscored Sandhurst four goals to two.
Tom Brereton and Leroy Miller sparked the Bloods’ revival and although Lachie Ross restored some momentum to the Dragons with a fine running goal South was on the march.
A high shot from Wright bounced and skidded through followed by a long, straight kick from Mitch Hocking from the pool flank.
With 20 minutes gone suddenly the gap was just two, straight kicks.
Sandhurst full-back Luke O’Sullivan nailed the goal-of-the-day when he grabbed the pill from a ball-up and drilled a long, high shot to hand the Dragons a 19-point three-quarter time lead.
The last term was a thriller. Three times the Bloods got back within eight points and on each occasion the Dragons were able to answer the challenge.
Wright (2), Whelan and Mitch Rogerson hammered home South majors. The Hurst replies came from Joel Wharton, Oscar McKinley and Thornton, the last one following a free from a pack marking infringement.
The Dragons had fine running players in Brodie Montague and Lee Coghlan with the Bloods sparked by skipper Aaron Connaughton and Rogerson.
Sandhurst coach Wayne Primmer said his team had played the first half the way they’d set out to do.
“We’ve been playing only two quarters a game for the past four or five weeks. At least today I felt we turned in three pretty good quarters.
“To South’s credit they lifted their work rate in the third when we had the wind but we did fight the game right out to the end.
“In that last term they’d kick a goal, then we’d go back and kick another one just to give us enough breathing space,” Primmer said.
And the Hurst coach added that even though on paper his club looked to have a better run home than South his players still had to come out and produce each week just as they had on Saturday.
In the final three rounds Sandhurst plays Maryborough (last), Kangaroo Flat (8th) and Gisborne (7th).
The Bloods have a much tougher draw. They play Golden Square (third), Strathfieldsaye (second) and Kangaroo Flat (8th).
South coach Brady Childs agreed the second term effort when his players had added just six behinds was disappointing.
“We did allow them two easy first quarter goals and then in the second we stepped away from some things as a club. It seemed our guys relied on the wind to do the work – our intensity just wasn’t there.
“Half-time allows you to come in, have a conversation and re-set things. So from then on our guys took it up to Sandhurst and got back within eight points more than once,” Childs said.
The Bloods’ coach said to have had two free kicks paid for holding – when there hadn’t been any earlier throughout play – and especially the pack marking free paid to Hurst’s Matt Thornton 15 metres out “had hurt South.”
“But we’ve got to take accountability for all that. If we hadn’t been down by that much during play when we had a run-on those frees mightn’t have hurt us.”
Sandhurst 6.4 7.7 9.10 12.13 (85)
South Bendigo 2.0 2.6 6.9 11.10 (76)
Goals – Sandhurst: Lee Coghlan 3, Matt Thornton 2, Oscar McKinley 2, Joel Wharton, Andrew Collins, Luke O’Sullivan, Lachlan Ross, Lachlan Zimmer. South Bendigo: Brad Wright 3, Blair Whelan 2, Jayden Sheean, Tom Brereton, Liam Bartels, Mitch Rogerson, Leroy Miller, Mitch Hocking.
Best – Sandhurst: Brodie Montague, Lee Coghlan, Matt Thornton, Zac East, Liam Ireland, Joel Wharton, Luke O’Sullivan. South Bendigo: Aaron Connaughton, Blair Whelan, Mitch Rogerson, Tom Brereton, Brad Wright, Liam Bartels.
KYNETON shored up their spot inside the Top Five with what looked like a commanding 52–point win over Kangaroo Flat.
But on the Roos’ home deck at Dower Park the Tigers and the Flat were separated by just four points halfway through the third quarter: 5.6 to 5.2.
Then the Tigers booted eight of the concluding nine goals of the day to take out their sixth victory on the trot.
Kyneton eased away in the last 50 minutes scoring 8.8 to 1.2 to consign the Roos to their 12th loss of 2017.
It was a burst of majors from Rhys Magin, Max O’Sullivan and Mitch Scholard – three in three minutes – which set up the pattern for the remainder of the match.
Best for Kyneton included three of their midfield brigade in captain Josh Govan, Magin (two goals) and O’Sullivan (two goals).
Gun small forward Ben Weightman finished with 4.4 while Scholard nailed three majors.
Dylan Klemm impressed as a key forward of the future for the Roos. He finished with three of Kangaroo Flat’s six goals.
HUGE winning margins were the order of the day in the three other contests.
Strathfieldsaye, with gun forward Lachlan Sharp snaring 12 goals for the second consecutive week, belted Castlemaine by 141 points, top team Eaglehawk made light of the trip to Gisborne with a 77-point victory while Golden Square massacred Maryborough at their Wade Street kennel.
The Storm led the Maine by eight goals at half-time then increased that to 18 by the last break following a massive 11-goal third stanza.
A reasonably quiet last quarter when Strathfieldsaye managed just 5.6 to 0.2 still handed the home side a big boost in percentage: the best in the BFNL.
Apart from Sharp Tom Dowd, skipper Shannon Geary (2 goals), Kallen Geary, Kellan Smith and Jake Hall (3 goals) were in the Storm’s best.
Simon Seddon was again the shining light for the Maine.
Storm coach Darryl Wilson said Sharp could have reached the 100-goal mark against the Maine. “He hit the post at least twice and gave off four or five others. He’s finished on 96 goals with three games to go,” he said.
Adam ‘Skinny’ Baird was Square’s best for the second consecutive week as the Bulldogs blew away the Maryborough Magpies by 140 points.
Baird nailed eight majors and was joined by Hamish Morcom (4), Dylan Johnstone (3) and Jake Thrum (3) in a long list of Square goalkickers.
Baird’s older brother Travis, the Dogs’ leading goalkicker this season, was off the field early with a hamstring injury.
The consistent Will Short was Maryborough’s best.
Last week Riley Saunders (5 goals) stepped up for Eaglehawk with gun spearhead Matt Gretgrix sidelined with a broken hand.
This week at Gisborne it was Sean Williams who nailed eight. Saunders was still effective contributing three with the Collins – Jesse and vice-captain Brodie – in the best along with Scott Hann.
Williams was voted best afield.
For Gisborne Tom Wood booted three goals with Jack Baker and Jake Conolan the Gardiner Reserve Dogs’ best.
And on Tuesday night the BFNL appeal against a three-match suspension handed to Sandhurst’s Pascale Craig for making careless contact with a central umpire will be heard.
The BFNL Independent Tribunal handed down a three-match suspension to Craig last Wednesday evening.
But after agreeing with a submission lodged by the Bendigo Umpires Association the BFNL has instituted the rare step of appealing to AFL Victoria.
The question facing AFL Victoria’s appeals board will be whether a “careless action” of a player leading to an umpire tripping and falling and the subsequent three-match suspension is enough.
Craig’s right leg made contact with field umpire Matthew Bourke who tripped and fell backwards. The umpire was running backwards after exiting a ball-up.
Craig told the BFNL Tribunal he acknowledged the contact with Bourke, but said his leg movement was a reaction to one of his feet being stood upon by the Eaglehawk ruckman.
Final scores: Kyneton 13.14 (92) def. Kang. Flat 6.4 (40), Eaglehawk 20.10 (130) def. Gisborne 7.11 (53), Strathfieldsaye 27.14 (176) def. Castlemaine 4.11 (35) and Golden Square 24.23 (167) def. Maryborough 4.3 (27).
Top Five: Eaglehawk 13 wins, 2 losses, 52 prem. points, 158.4%; Strath Storm 12-3, 48, 195.1%; Golden Square 12-3, 48, 167.9%; Kyneton 10-1 draw-4 losses, 42, 156.1%; South Bendigo 9-6, 36, 135.2%.
Sixth: Sandhurst 8-1 draw-6 losses, 34, 135.8%.
Leading goalkickers: Lachlan Sharp (Storm) 12, 96; Ben Weightman (Kyn) 4, 82; Matt Gretgrix (Eh) 0, 65; Travis Baird (GS) 1, 49; Mitchell Scholard (Kyn) 3, 49.
Next week, Round 16 (all Saturday): Kang. Flat v Strathfieldsaye, Castlemaine v Gisborne, South Bendigo v Golden Square, Kyneton v Eaglehawk and Maryborough v Sandhurst.