Inter-league: Bendigo 19.14 (128) d Gippsland 13.16 (94)
FOR the third time in five years the Bendigo Football League has beaten Gippsland at the Queen Elizabeth Oval to move back up the Worksafe AFL Victoria Country championship rankings.
Bendigo was never headed in Saturday's inter-league clash, defeating Gippsland by 34 points, 19.14 (128) to 13.16 (94).
The game was full of momentum shifts, with Gippsland constantly fighting its way back into the contest whenever Bendigo threatened to break the game open.
But after withstanding the challenge from Gippsland, Bendigo kicked the last four goals of the match to mark the Blue and Gold's 100th inter-league game with the 34-point victory.
In what was an even performance where Bendigo - featuring 15 players representing the Blue and Gold for the first time - had no passengers, the difference between the two teams was Stephen Milne.
Milne ignited Bendigo with nine goals in a best on ground performance as he showed all the class and smarts that made him one of the AFL's greatest small forwards during his 275 games with St Kilda.
The 34-year-old also produced the highlight of the game with his high-flying pack mark in the last quarter that he converted into his ninth goal.
Bendigo's other ex-AFL forward, Corey Jones, kicked four goals, with he and Milne's 13 goals equalling Gippsland's tally of 13.
The victory moves Bendigo from number seven to six in the championship rankings and sets up an inter-league clash next year with fierce rivals Ballarat, which lost to Goulburn Valley by 65 points on Saturday.
"It was a young and exciting group and the way they fought the game out and were able to find a way to keep scoring and get the win was fantastic," first-year Bendigo coach Rick Ladson said.
"It was a great game of footy in terms of the way both teams attacked and had a crack and it was good at the end to kick a few goals and put the icing on the cake.
"I couldn't be more prouder of the boys in not only today, but their commitment the past month leading into the game."