EAGLEHAWK spoiled Kyneton's much-anticipated return to the Bendigo Football League senior competition on Saturday after overcoming a 32-point third-quarter deficit.
Following a wayward first half in front of goal, the Hawks found their radar inside 50 after the long break as they over-ran the Tigers to win 12.17 (89) to 8.15 (63) at the Kyneton Showgrounds.
Conditions couldn't be blamed for the wasteful kicking of both teams - they combined for 20.32 - with the game played in ideal weather in front of a vocal Kyneton home crowd.
The Tigers looked on track to celebrate their return with a first-up win when - after leading by 26 points at half-time - Nathan Thompson kicked the first goal of the third term to put Kyneton 32 points up.
At that stage the Tigers led 7.12 to 2.10, but they ground to a halt as the new-look Hawks overpowered Kyneton with their run and improved conversion.
The Hawks kicked the last seven goals of the third quarter - including three to lively small forward Damian Wust - to quickly erase the deficit and lead by 13 points at three quarter-time following a goal to Matt Gilmore after the siren.
With the momentum all their way at three quarter-time, the Hawks didn't let-up in the final term, adding three goals to one to complete a 58-point turnaround as they won by 26 points.
Fittingly, the sealer was kicked by Wust - his fourth goal - at the 22-minute mark as he capped a match-turning second half.
The Hawks outscored the Tigers in the final term, despite being a man down for 15 minutes after recruit Sean Williams was reported and yellow carded on a striking charge against Kyneton onballer Ryan Carafa.
After their tardy start in front of goal in the first half when they kicked 2.10, the Hawks added a more accurate 10.7 after the break.
"We let a few opportunities slip up forward, especially in the first quarter," Eaglehawk coach Luke Monaghan said.
"We felt the game was played on our terms for the first 10 to 15 minutes, but we didn't capitalise on the scoreboard.
"They were well on top at half-time, particularly around the contested ball, but we changed a few things up, worked on our accountability and turned it around."
The Hawks' better players were led by Essendon VFL-listed midfielder Ben McPhee, Wust, defender Tyler Miles, onballer Brodie Collins, Cameron McGlashan and full-back Tim Nicolson, who held Tigers' spearhead Thompson to three goals.
The best for the Tigers - who kicked only two goals after half-time - were ruckman Joel Stevenson, who worked hard around the ground, full-back Josh Houlden on Gilmore, Ben Knight, Bryce Hinneberg and backman Darren Chambers, who had an enthralling duel with a fellow bald-headed veteran in Damien Lock.
While the Tigers were 26 points up at half-time, they had their chance to be further in front after kicking 2.8 in the second term.
"I thought we were fairly dominant in the first half, but in the second half Eaglehawk played very good footy when they spread and they converted their opportunities," Kyneton coach Mark Adamson said.
"It's obviously not the result we wanted, but we'll take a lot of positives out of this first game, especially the first half when there were some terrific passages of play.
"There was no shame in our performance today, but unfortunately, our third quarter was very disappointing."
• Match statistics:
Centre clearances: Eaglehawk 12; Kyneton 13.
Inside 50s: Eaglehawk 54; Kyneton 47.
Stoppages: Eaglehawk 27; Kyneton 27.