Hawks soar into 2018 grand final by Richard Jones

BFNLLogo1A wrap of Bendigo footy finals, week two

Eaglehawk booted a match-winning seven last quarter goals to earn first grand final berth and consign defending premier Strathfieldsaye to the cut-throat preliminary final.

With just one point separating the Borough and the Storm at the second semi-final’s last change key Two Blues forwards Shaun Knott and Sean Williams slipped their taggers to boot match-winning majors. Eaglehawk added 7.3 to one goal to win the big night match by 40 points. In Sunday’s last chance first semi-final Kyneton bowed out of the September action in straight sets going down to Sandhurst by 104 points. It was the Tigers’ second successive finals loss by more than 100 points and made neutral footy fans concerned that their $200,000 club deficit had weighed heavily on players’ minds during the first two weekends of finals. The game was over at quarter-time. The Dragons led by six goals, holding the Tigers to a meagre two behinds. Their terrible finals record gave the Tigers the mantle of being the first BFNL team to lose two-straight finals by more than 100 points following their 112-point qualifying final belting from Eaglehawk on September 1st.

eaglehawkeOn Saturday night the game was in the balance at three-quarter time. The Borough then put the reigning premiers Strathfieldsaye away in a ruthless display much like the Storm had done to Eaglehawk in the 2017 grand final almost 12 months to the day back in time. “We’re really pleased with the effort from the boys particularly the way we finished the game,” elated Borough coach Josh Bowe said. “We had 22 contributors which was particularly pleasing.” It took fine individual efforts from a handful of Storm’s elite players to keep the minor premiers in the game. Hugh Robertson booted four goals while Bryce Curnow and Bailey Henderson added a pair apiece. Kellan Smith and Shannon Geary tried to hold the backline together but without injured skipper, Shannon’s brother Kallen, the Storm defence looked slow. They did manage to cut the deficit to two points, 21 minutes into the third term, and there was only a point in it at the last change.

Knott and Williams iced the game for the Hawks with impressive last quarters aided and abetted by Cam McGlashan who nailed two goals – the second from a massive long bomb – inside two minutes to seal the Eaglehawk victory. Once again midfield workhorse Brodie Collins and Bowe did plenty of damage through the centre and across half-back with Storm coach Troy Coates lamenting the ground play of his smaller forwards. “We lacked an ability to swoop on the ground ball in the forward line if Curnow and Robertson brought the ball to the turf,” he said. “That’s something we’ll really have to change up at training this week.”

SandhurstDragonsSandhurst posted their biggest winning margin in a BFNL final since eliminating Golden Square by 77 points in the 2015 preliminary final. Dragons’ coach Andrew Collins said finals and the atmosphere they created was completely different to home-and-away footy. “In the finals you have to ‘up’ your game. That’s essential if you want to keep advancing,” he said. “I thought we played some of our best footy for the year today.”

Expected by most pundits to fire up after the huge loss in the second semi-final to Eaglehawk, Kyneton was plagued by the same issues. There was not enough pressure placed on Sandhurst’s ball-carriers, an inabilty to man up when the Dragons had the ball and no one up forward able to clunk a big mark. By contrast the Hurst looked like a side keen on advancing deep into the finals series rather than go on an end-of-season footy trip. Nick Stagg set the tone. He played his best half of football for the season nailing four goals in the opening two quarters. Sandhurst defenders Matt Thornton and Codie Price controlled everything that came their way from the struggling Tiger midfielders with only Fintan Brazil (four goals) able to find any rhythm. A six-goal-to-one third term from the Hurst ensured there’d be no miracle Kyneton comeback and the Dragons finished off the game with an eight-major last stanza. There was no Tiger defensive pressure. Sandhurst players strolled into the open Barnard Street end goalmouth to nail goals at will. Zeb Broadbent booted four goals for the Hurst with Collins landing his three goals all in the second half. His screamer of a grab over Kyneton’s Chris Barry was the clear mark-of-the-day. Collins said later he expected Zac East (a late withdrawal with a knee injury) and match-winning forward Daniel Connors (hamstring) would be available for the prelim. final. Apart from Fintan Brazil, the Tigers had few good players. Rhys Magin tried hard to lift his teammates as did the Govan brothers, Hamish and skipper Josh.

Eaglehawk assistant coach Linton Jacobs told the media on Sunday morning he expected injured duo Riley McIvor (calf) and ruckman Jonty Neaves (dislocated elbow) would be passed fit for the grand final. Both missed the last quarter-and-a-bit of Saturday night’s second semi. But with a fortnight to attend to their complaints Jacobs expected both players to be fighting fit for the 2018 big dance. Strathfieldsaye coach Troy Coates said captain Kallen Geary had missed the Saturday night final as a precaution. “He’ll be right for next week. He only missed the game as a precaution and the rest of us got through unscathed as far as injuries are concerned. “We needed to get games into us because of the limited senior games some of the players have had.” Kyneton winger Chris Barry was taken off concussed as he was caught at the base of a pack marking situation late in Sunday’ first semi-final. 

Final scores: Eaglehawk 16.9 (105) def. Strathfieldsaye 9.11 (65); Sandhurst 24.9 (153) def. Kyneton 6.13 (49).

A grade netball: Gisborne 57 def. Sandhurst 45; Kangaroo Flat 62 def. Eaglehawk 51.

Next Saturday, preliminary finals, football: Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst. A grade netball: Kangaroo Flat v Sandhurst.

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