Wrap of Bendigo footy round nine: halfway mark
Gisborne continued its steady push for a top five ladder position with a 34-point win over fellow finals contender South Bendigo on Saturday. On their own QEO deck and down by 52 points at half-time the Bloods chipped away at the deficit, closing the gap to three straight kicks 20 minutes into the final term. Sensing the danger the Bulldogs steadied with late majors to Jake Conolan and Jaidyn Owen to shore up the club’s sixth position, just behind the group of leading teams. In the other major clash of the weekend fourth-placed Golden Square shoved back-to-back losses behind them and downed Kyneton by six goals at Wade Street. The Bulldogs regained their defensive ascendancy restricting the third-placed Tigers to a meagre seven goals. The other three games went to script: Sandhurst was too classy for Castlemaine, Eaglehawk faded in the second half but downed Maryborough by 52 points while top team Strathfieldsaye belted Kangaroo Flat by 15 goals.
Gisborne set up eventual victory with a dominant first half as they nailed 12 goals to four, five of them posted in the first term. Unlike previous rounds at the QEO there was hardly a breath of wind. It didn’t bother the visiting Dogs as they had Thomas Wood, Ollie Clough and Daniel Weaver on line at the Barnard Street end goals. South’s only real target up forward was Kaiden Antonowicz. He drilled two of his six goals in the opening term and fed off a pass to promoted under-18 player Mitch Goodwin for the Bloods third. It was the second term which cemented Gisborne’s hold on the game. They hammered home seven goals to one with youngster Seb Bell-Bartels, Jake Conolan (2) and Wood leading the charge. The Bloods looked more focused in the third stanza. Liam Bartels shook the Jack Reaper tag and along with Mitch Rogerson they sparked the South revival. Antonowicz plucked the mark-of-the-day as he soared over two Gisborne defenders and shot accurately while co-small forward Lachlan Furness got another. Gisborne was still ahead by five goals at the last change. But with majors to Antonowicz (his fifth) and an accurate set shot from Joel Swatton suddenly the gap had closed to three straight kicks: 72-90. But Conolan steered home his third major from a long shot while Jaidyn Owen ran into an open city end goalmouth to nail the steadiers and ensure Gisborne clinched the four points. Midfield workhorse Ethan Minns (two goals) was again in Gisborne’s best along with Reaper, Ollie Clough and Conolan. Bartels, Rogerson and Antonowicz were South’s best.
Golden Square coach Bernie Haberman was delighted his side regained its defensive ascendancy as the Bulldogs put their early June losses behind them. “We showed some great resolve and it was pleasing our players were able to carry out almost exactly the plans we’d put in place,” Haberman said. Of the seven goals Kyneton kicked four came in a second term six-minute blitz when they erased a 22-point deficit to snatch a slim two-point advantage. The Square bounced back despite losing key forward Travis Baird (two goals) who re-injured the same dislocated shoulder which had kept him out for six weeks. And a third quarter run of five unanswered goals gave the Dogs the game-breaking lead which Kyneton couldn’t peg back. Midfield generals Adam Baird and skipper Jack Geary capitalised on strong ruckwork from Square’s big man Matt Compston with the move of Ryan Hartley onto Tiger playmaker Rhys Magin another key Haberman move. Skipper Josh Govan was again in Kyneton’s best along with defenders Harrison Huntly and Jayden Exell.
Eaglehawk collected the four points after its trip to Maryborough but the final result wasn’t as one-sided as many pundits had predicted. It was thanks to a big first half – nine goals to one – that the Hawks got on top. But then the winless Magpies produced their best half of the season to outscore Eaglehawk 5.6 to 4.6 after the main break. Riley Saunders was again in the visitors’ best three with Sam Harper, Tyler Miles and Jesse Collins all doing well again with spearhead Matt ‘G-Train’ Gretgrix nailing five goals. Lively midfielder Coby Perry played his best game of the season for the Princes Park Pies with other good players Bodie Malone and Connor O’Shea.
Sandhurst coach Andrew Collins kicked six goals in a best afield effort as the Dragons thumped Castlemaine by 125 points at the Camp Reserve. It was the Maine’s fourth 100-point loss in a row and marked the first time in more than 40 years the club has succumbed to four straight triple-figure defeats. The Dragons booted 13 goals to one in the first half to secure the four points before the Magpies showed more fight in the third quarter. Sandhurst regained their ascendancy in the final term adding 6.9 to no score. Aside from Collins Zeb Broadbent (midfield), Jake Pallpratt (defence) and Zac East (midfield) also impressed with big man Dylan Atkins the Maine’s best.
Storm playing coach Troy Coates wasn’t overly pleased with his side’s performance at Kangaroo Flat describing it as “an average performance.” Strathfieldsaye has set very high standards as most clubs – and coaches – would be thrilled with an 88-point win. Kangaroo Flat didn’t land its first goal until deep into the third quarter while Coates rotated his key forwards, Bryce Curnow and Hugh Robertson, constantly throughout the day. In the absence of injured spearhead Lachlan Sharp, Curnow booted four goals and Robertson two. Midfielder Liam Collins was again the Roos’ best with another fine four-quarter effort.
Final scores: Strathfieldsaye 16.18 (114) def. Kang. Flat 3.8 (26), Sandhurst 22.20 (152) def. Castlemaine 4.3 (27), G. Square 13.7 (85) def. Kyneton 7.9 (51), Eaglehawk 13.18 (96) def. Maryborough 6.8 (44) and Gisborne 17.17 (119) def. South Bendigo 12.13 (85).
Top 5: Strathfieldsaye 8 wins, 1 loss, 209.2%, 32 premiership points; Eaglehawk 8-1, 208.9% 32; Kyneton 6-2-1, 26; Golden Square 6, 3, 24; Sandhurst 5, 4, 166.67%, 20.
Sixth: Gisborne 5, 4, 130.06%, 20.
Next week, round 10: Strathfieldsaye v Eaglehawk, Kangaroo Flat v Gisborne, South Bendigo v Kyneton, Golden Square v Sandhurst and Castlemaine v Maryborough.