The final round of Bendigo footy
GISBORNE waited until the 18th and final round of Bendigo footy to claim fifth spot and a berth in next Sunday’s elimination final. The Bulldogs disposed of South Bendigo by 63 points at the Gardiner Reserve and with third-placed Kyneton downing Golden Square by 42 points Gisborne replaced the Square in the finals lineup. The win at the Kyneton Showgrounds on Saturday was also vital for the Tigers. They needed the win to hold onto third spot and the double chance in the finals and they twice bounced back from dangerous positions to account for the Wade Street Dogs. The other three home-and-awsy clashes went largely as expected. Sandhurst absolutely destroyed hapless Castlemaine holding the Magpies goal-less on the way to a massive 225-point belting while under lights on Saturday evening Strathfieldsaye downed Kangaroo Flat by 123 points. The Storm suffered devastating news from the game, however. After bagging 10 majors spearhead Lachlan Sharp suffered a broken leg and will miss the rest of the season. Eaglehawk marked a big day for Glenn Daly, known as The Architect for his marshalling of attacks from his half-back flank, with a 94-point belting of Maryborough. Daly played his 250th senior club game and ran onto Canterbury Park through a guard of honour formed by the two competing teams.
Gisborne couldn’t hold 2018 Ron Best medallist Kaiden Antonowicz of South who booted seven goals but they had bigger fish to fry. They needed two Round 18 results to go their way. First the Bulldogs needed to beat South Bendigo at the Gardiner Reserve and they did that comfortably. Then they needed, ironically, arch-Macedon Ranges rival Kyneton to do them a favour and beat Golden Square. And Kyneton did that, too. With the Gardiner Reserve match finishing 10 minutes ahead of the Kyneton Showgrounds clash coach Clinton Young and his charges clung onto their mobile phones checking the BFNL app. for updated scores. Young was one of Gisborne’s standouts in the win over South slotting five goals with exciting young forward Jack Scanlon adding another four. Jack Reaper in his post in defence was best afield while Matt Goodyear was strong midfield performer. Antonowicz became only the seventh player in the past 50 years to win the Ron Best medal in a side which missed the finals with South finishing with a 7-10-1 record. And the match was Brady Childs’ last as senior coach of the Bloods.
The Tigers finished full of running to down a desperate Golden Square by 44 points as they secured their first BFNL finals double chance in 19 years. There was just nine points between Kyneton and the Square at the last change with late goals to assistant coach Gareth Bowes and Jake Ward helping the Tigers wrest back the ascendancy. The Dogs had led for chunks of the second and third terms with Jayden Burke the focal point in their attack. But a flurry of goals in the final term, including a 55 m long range ‘bomb’ from Daniel Davie at the 22-and-a-half minute mark, effectively sunk the Bulldogs. One interesting sidelight from the match was the Dogs’ naming of high-marking forward Travis Baird for his first game since June. He’d dislocated a should but still managed to boot the Square goal which reduced the gap to nine points at quarter-time. The Tigers’ victory means the BFNL finals will feature two country clubs for the first time since 2008.
Eaglehawk marked club stalwart Glenn Daly’s 250th open-age game for the club with an all-the-way 94-point drubbing of Maryborough. Daly known as The Architect for his ability to create numerous attacking opportunities from his half-back flank ran onto the field through a guard of honour formed by players of both clubs. Sean Williams threaded home nine goals for the Hawks with Riley Saunders adding four. The Magpies went goal-less in the first half but were competitive in the third term adding four goals to Eaglehawk’s 4.6. The Hawks got going again in the last term as Williams twice ran into an open goalmouth to ensure Eaglehawk finished second on the ladder with a Saturday night qualifying final awaiting them. Teenager Lachlan Bond was among Maryborough best along with consistent and speedy mid Coby Perry.
Castlemaine’s season of beltings mercifully ended on Saturday night with the Maine suffering a 225-point pounding — but this time being unable to score a single goal. On the QEO Sandhurst showed no mercy to the inexperienced Maine Magpies as 14 players booted goals, the most significant contribution coming from X-factor spearhead Daniel Connors. He snagged 10 majors before his game ended in the third quarter with a recurrence of his troublesome hamstring injury. The Dragons led 93-1 at the long break but then they unleashed their most lethal quarter of the match, adding 13 goals to two behinds with Tim Martin’s ruck dominance creating a constant procession from the centre circle. In the Hurst’s biggest winning margin since 1995 Josh McLean (5), Andrew Collins (3), Taylor Strachan (3) and Nick Stagg (3) were the main support acts for Connors. The Magpies finished 1-17 to claim their first wooden spoon since 2012.
Strathfieldsaye suffered a major blow when crack spearhead Lachie Sharp broke a leg in the final quarter. Already with 10 goals to his name in the twilight match against Kangaroo Flat Sharp leapt for a mark and was fallen on as the pack crumbled. Storm coach Troy Coates explained it succinctly: “It was one of those freak things where he went up for a mark and a bloke landed on his leg,” Coates told reporters. Sharp has played just 10 games this season but his double figure tally on Saturday night took him to 74 for the season. The Storm cruised to a 123-point belting of the Roos and finished on top of the ladder for the fourth time in the past six years with mids Trent Donnan and Josh Formosa key contributors along with forward Bryce Curnow (4 goals). Flat will have a new coach in 2019 with North Bendigo dual premiership coach Rob Bennett taking over from Corey Greer and Shawn Filo at Dower Park.
Final scores: Sandhurst 34.25 (229) d Castlemaine 0.4 (4), Eaglehawk 22.18 (150) d Maryborough 8.8 (56), Kyneton 15.13 (103) d G. Square 7.19 (61), Strathfieldsaye 25.20 (170) d Kang. Flat 7.5 (47) and Gisborne 18.15 (123) d South Bendigo 9.6 (60).
Top Five: Strathfieldsaye 16 wins, 2 losses, 64 prem. points; Eaglehawk 15-3, 60; Kyneton 12-5, 1 draw, 50; Sandhurst 12-6, 48; Gisborne 11-7, 44.
Leading goalkickers: Kaiden Antonowicz (South Bendigo) 7, 76; Lachlan Sharp (Storm) 10, 74; Ethan Foreman (Kyn), 3, 58; Sean Williams (Eh) 9, 50; Bryce Curnow (Storm) 4, 49; Andrew Collins (S’hurst) 3, 47.
Finals week 1 – Saturday, qualifying final: Eaglehawk v Kyneton. Sunday, knockout elimination final: Sandhurst v Gisborne.