MARONG gave club stalwart Brett Rogers a 200th game to remember with a fighting come-from-behind win over Bears Lagoon-Serpentine in the Loddon Valley Football League on Saturday.
The Panthers recovered from a 31-point deficit at half-time to win 17.11 (113) to 13.24 (102) at Marong Links Oval.
It was a 135-point turnaround on their round eight meeting, which the Bears had won by 124 points.
“It’s one of the best wins I’ve been involved in,” an elated Marong coach Corey Gregg said.
“The boys really worked hard and did it for Freddo (Rogers) today.”
Not only did the Panthers come back from 31 points down, but they did so without a bench from early in the second quarter after losing Clinton Angove (ankle), Aydin Bowe (back) and Jay Reardon in an incident in which the Bears’ Adrian Alford was reported for striking.
The Panthers produced a barnstorming third quarter when they kicked 9.4 to 1.4 to turn their half-time deficit into a 17-point lead at the final change.
“The boys just put everything on the line and didn’t leave anything out there, so I couldn’t be more prouder of them,” Gregg said.
Gregg – who is shaping as a leading Harding Medal contender – was again brilliant in the midfield for the Panthers, while he also pushed forward to kick five goals.
Gregg was well supported by his brother, Ben (two goals), ruckman Paul Thomson, Callum Williamson, captain Lee Franklin and milestone man Rogers, who kicked two goals.
With one round left in the home and away season the Bears are now staring at the possibility of losing their spot in the top three. That was unthinkable after they earlier won their first seven games and sat six points clear at the top of the ladder.
But unless they can conjure an upset against top side Bridgewater this Saturday, the Bears now look headed for the elimination final.
They only have themselves to blame for losing Saturday’s game after kicking 4.14 in the first quarter.
“Bad kicking and some undisciplined football cost us the game today,” Bears coach Damien Featherby said.
“We’ve now got ourselves into the position where we’ve got to win this week to hang on to our top three spot... and how tough is that going to be against the top side.”
As well as the report of Alford, the Bears also have injury concerns to Nathan McNally, Rohan Nolan and Brodie Leonard-Shannon out of the game.
Andrew Gladman, McNally and Christian Sargeant were the three best for the Bears, while Michael Checkley and Cody Gunn kicked four goals each.
● INGLEWOOD has ended the season without a win, but finished with a fighting performance against Bridgewater.
In the top versus bottom clash at G.J. Gardner Oval, Inglewood kept its losing margin to a respectable 54 points – well below its season average of 95 points – as the Mean Machine won 18.17 (125) to 10.11 (71) and are now guaranteed to finish top for the third straight season.
“We spoke all week about trying to gain respect and just going out there and having a crack, and that’s what we did today,” outgoing Blues coach Stuart Balnaves said.
“Again, we turned the ball over and made silly mistakes and dropped off in the second quarter, but we took it right up them.”
Take out the second quarter, when Bridgewater kicked eight goals to four, and for the rest of the match the Blues were only outscored 10 goals to six
“That’s the problem we’ve had all year... at least one quarter letting us down each week,” Balnaves said.
“But today we wanted to show the rest of the competition that we’re not down and out and we’ll be here for years to come. It’s not all doom and gloom like everyone thinks it is.”
Full-forward Brad Rohde kicked eight goals for Bridgewater, which also had top performers in Jack Hickey, captain Darren Clutton and Jack McKinley.
Josh Hutchinson, James Essex and Tynan Hywood, who finished the season in strong form, were the best for the Blues, who have the bye in this Saturday’s last round.
● THE in-form Newbridge is now in sight of the top three after its 25-point victory over Pyramid Hill extended its winning streak to six.
The Maroons defeated the Bulldogs 11.9 (75) to 6.14 (50) at Riverside Park in a result that saw Pyramid Hill fall from third to fifth.
The Maroons – who won just one of their first five games – are now only half-a-game out of the top three, with their last game this Saturday against the battling Mitiamo.
“Top-three is something that we haven’t addressed,” Newbridge coach Phil Birchmore said.
“All we’ve focussed on is just winning our games, and what will be, will be. If a bit of luck goes our way it would be nice, but at the end of the day, all we’re worried about is playing well next week against Mitiamo.”
The Maroons got away to a good start to lead Pyramid Hill by 27 points after kicking with the wind in the first quarter, and were able to hold the Bulldogs at bay for the rest of the game.
“We really had to grind it out today, particularly as they were kicking with a gale in the last quarter,” Birchmore said.
“Again, I thought our backline was fantastic to hold them to just six goals.”
Saturday was the fourth game in a row the Maroons have held their opposition to less than 10 goals, with Jarrod Postle, Luke Brown and Aidan Moore leading the tight-knit defence.
Down the other end, Reece Carmichael, Trent McInnes, Jeff McMurtrie and Leon Nixon all kicked two goals.
The loss ended Pyramid Hill’s four-game winning streak, with Paul Carmody, Brad Fawcett, Jaryd Wishart and Timothy Waller the Bulldogs’ best.
This is the first season since 2003 that Newbridge has beaten Pyramid Hill in both its home and away matches after earlier defeating the Bulldogs by 36 points in round eight.
● CALIVIL United climbed back into the top three with a 51-point win over YCW at home.
The inaccurate Demons won 13.23 (101) to 7.8 (50) as they led at every change.
“We probably always had space on them, but YCW certainly had a crack against us,” said Demons coach Cameron Carter, who kicked three goals.
“But we just need to win games – regardless of the margins – if we want to hold on to our spot in the top three, and we were able to do that today.”
Captain Henry Miller, Caleb Smith and Aaron Demeo were among the best for the Demons, while Nick Manley kicked four goals.
Tom O’Sullivan, ruckman Ben Greene, Daniel O’Connell and Steve Turner battled hard for the Eagles, who had been within 15 points at half-time.
Adrian Cronin kicked three of YCW’s seven goals.