SOUTH Bendigo survived a massive scare from a rejuvenated Castlemaine to win Saturday’s game by 11 points at a windy and wet QEO.
After an electric start, the Bloods saw an early 48-point lead reduced to just five points midway through the third quarter.
On the back of seven unanswered goals from the end of the second stanza to the 17-minute mark of the third, the Magpies changed the state of the game.
Admittedly, South was down to 17 men from two minutes into the third. Ryley Barrack, who had been on fire with two early goals, was yellow carded after he slammed Lachie Ford into the hard centre wicket turf with a sling tackle.
Then Rhys Ford (three), Jordan Gilboy and James O’Brien kicked third quarter goals to add to skipper Zach Hansford’s and Jack Timmins’ late second-term majors to trim the margin to one straight kick: 8.5 (53) to South’s 9.4 (58).
And those five third-quarter goals were kicked against the breeze at the Barnard Street end.
The Bloods re-grouped as three-quarter time loomed. With midfielders Brady Childs and Aaron Connaughton providing the spark, Glenn Scholtes, Justin Maddern and Rory Alexander used the wind favouring the city end to nurse home steadying majors.
Early in the game during the first quarter, it had been all South. The Bloods booted seven goals at the city end as Nathan Coad and Brad Wright shut down the Maine forwards.
Apart from Barrack, Maddern (three), Alexander and Leigh Burke drove home majors.
When Maddern and Burke added further goals against the breeze, Castlemaine’s task looked virtually hopeless. Burke had landed the goal-of-the-day, taking two bounces as he loped towards goal along the visitors’ rooms flank.
The Magpies refused to concede. With key forward Jason Cordy hauling in a couple of big pack marks and O’Brien working non-stop in the crushes, the Magpies rallied with their seven-straight goals.
With South Bendigo leading by 26 points at the final change a last-term thriller looked likely.
But with rain falling and the light fading, the Bloods held up the Magpies for long periods in the scoreboard pocket.
Burke played as a loose man across half-back and numerous boundary throw-ins and ball-ups meant the Magpies could never get any flow in their attacks.
Rhys Ford’s fifth and sixth goals – a bounced shot followed by a chase after a rolling ball to snap it home – closed the gap to 11 points.
That was as close as Castlemaine would get.
South coach Rick Coburn said leading nine goals to three at half-time should have indicated a solid win was coming up.
“You expect to have a good win, but the boys took the foot off the pedal and once you do that it’s pretty hard to put it back when you’ve relaxed,” he said.
“We were happy with the last quarter effort, but our third quarter was terrible. Our performance was pretty ordinary as they’ve kicked seven goals in a row.”
Castlemaine coach Brett Fitzpatrick said his players had lost their way early on, from the 15-minute mark of the first quarter to the 20-minute of the second.
“That’s about 40 minutes of footy where our endeavour had dropped off and therefore their free possessions and run and some of their goals came without a lot of pressure from us,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Then we had to do something. To kick five goals into the wind was a massive effort, but you just can’t keep that sort of momentum and intensity going for 100 per cent of the time.”
● Match statistics:
Inside 50s: South Bendigo 61, Castlemaine 51.
Free kicks: South Bendigo 32, Castlemaine 15.
Centre clearances: Castlemaine 15, South Bendigo 10.