VICTORY was not achieved, but Bendigo Bank Pioneers coach David Newett was mighty proud of the team's fightback in Saturday's TAC Cup clash with Calder Cannons on Saturday.
The Cannons fired away to a five-goal lead in the opening quarter at Craigieburn's Highgate Reserve.
By match end the margin was 27 points as Bendigo won a lot more contests through midfield and attack and defended superbly against the second-placed Calder.
Newett said the Pioneers had many contributors in the fightback.
"Calder jumped out of the blocks and dominated the first quarter," Newett said.
Among the stars in the blistering start by Calder was mid-sized forward Hisham Kerbatieh as he kicked three goals on the way to a match-high five.
Bendigo's play lifted dramatically in the second.
The work of key defenders Daniel Davie and Josh Ryan, Liam Barrett at half-back, Billy Evans, Tom Cole, Sam Simmons in midfield, and Jack Lawton in the ruck was capped by the Pioneers scoring 5.3 in the second.
In attack, Jordan Mangan was a strong-marking target.
Calder added 4.1 to be 22 points up at half-time.
"The second quarter was won of our best of the season and best in many weeks," Newett said.
"The boys fought really well at a lot of contests and worked hard to stop Calder's run from turnovers and stoppages.
"I was really pleased with the effort and workrate at contests," said Newett.
The Pioneers line-up included Jonty Marciano from Red Cliffs and Matthew Chisari from South Mildura in their TAC Cup debuts.
Chisari's first game after some impressive form with South Bendigo included a goal after roving a contest.
Injuries to Kyle Mueller and Jaden McGrath affected Bendigo's running power.
The Pioneers went into the contest without captain Jake Maher who has a broken wrist and will be sidelined for the next six weeks.
The Pioneers head to Mildura this Saturday to play New South Wales at 10.30am.