A NINE-goal third quarter was the catalyst for Heathcote’s comfortable 55-point win against Colbinabbin in Saturday’s Heathcote District Football League qualifying final at White Hills.
The Saints led by 14 points at half-time, but put the result beyond doubt with an outstanding third term when they kicked 9.5 to 1.0 with the breeze to set up their 19.12 (126) to 11.5 (71) victory.
The win propels the Saints into this Saturday’s second semi-final against Lockington-Bamawm United – their grand final opponents of the past two seasons – while Colbinabbin must now face North Bendigo in the cut-throat first semi-final.
Heathcote’s victory came seven days after it copped an 81-point hiding from Lockington-Bamawm United in the final round of the season.
“It was a good performance by the boys to be able to bounce back after last week,” Heathcote coach Brent Chapman said.
With a strong breeze blowing to the Epsom end of the ground, the Saints didn’t make the most of it in the first quarter when they kicked 2.5 and led by just three points.
But they were able to kick four goals to two against it in the second term to lead 6.6 to 4.4 at the main break, before unleashing their match-winning third quarter.
“In the third quarter we lifted our intensity and pressure around the footy and played a contested style of game,” said Chapman, who kicked two goals.
“In the first quarter when Colbo had possession against the wind, they held the ball up and just chipped it around and waited for something to present.
“But the third quarter we didn’t allow that to happen.”
Leading the third-quarter surge were the Saints’ star midfield brigade of captain Joel Condon, Marc Millard (three goals), Lochie Dornauf and Patrick Ring.
“They really stepped up for us in the third quarter,” Chapman said.
“In the first half it was a bit of a scrap in the middle, but in the third quarter we started to win those centre clearances, which gave our forwards a chance.”
As well as the dominant midfielders, backmen Daniel Carroll and Chris Chilcott were other prominent players in what was the Saints’ ninth-consecutive win over Colbinabbin.
In only his fifth game of the season, Simon Thorsen kicked six goals.
For the first time this season Heathcote’s Anthony Mellington, who was opposed by Matt Riordan, was held goalless.
However, Mellington did spend half the game playing loose in defence.
The Saints had Luke Chapman reported for striking Colbinabbin midfielder Darcy Booth late in the first quarter. He has taken a one-match set penalty.
Colbinabbin coach Matt Pinniger was pleased with his side’s first half, but was disappointed the Grasshoppers couldn’t stem the Saints’ third quarter blitz.
“I thought at half-time it was a fairly even game,” Pinniger said.
“We probably let ourselves down in the last five minutes of the second quarter when they kicked a couple of goals and got it out to 14 points.
“But in that third quarter they just ran away with it.
“They were able to find space and broke us apart in the midfield.
“They smashed us out of the middle and around the ground. There was nothing our forwards were able to do because the ball couldn’t get down there. We just couldn’t stem it and weren’t able to shut down when we needed to, which was disappointing.
“Our blokes didn’t work hard enough, and there’s no doubt we were beaten by a better team.”
Luke Chadderton, who was an inclusion into the team, was Colbinabbin’s best player.
“He changed through the midfield and was very good for us,” Pinniger said.
“In tight he was good and was able to get his hands on the footy and was consistent all game.”
Also in the best for the Grasshoppers were Booth, Tim O’Dwyer, Will Morrow, Tom Hill and Matthew O’Dwyer.
“When we’ve played well and won games this year you could throw a blanket over our best players,” Pinniger said.
“But today we didn’t have that... we’re the type of side that needs an even contribution, and unless we get that we aren’t going to win games.”
Forwards Jack Lloyd (four) and Dylan Cuttriss (three) combined for seven of Colbinabbin’s 11 goals.