THE Keech Australia-backed Bendigo Miners upset the previously undefeated Maroondah Griffins in Saturday's bruising encounter at Epsom Huntly Reserve.
The Miners conceded a 10-point lead by half-time in the rugby union clash as the Griffins responded to an early try by Miners’ captain Joseph Drahm with a dominance of field position and possession.
Bendigo conceded nine penalties in the first half.
The Griffins scored from two tries, a conversion and a penalty goal to lead 15-5 at half-time.
The Miners lifted their game and discipline in the second half with converted tries in the 12th and 22nd minutes to establish the winning lead.
During the final fifteen minutes, Bendigo was forced to defend desperately to hold out the resurgent Griffins. They were reduced to fourteen men for the final five minutes when flanker Rolo Eriesa was yellow carded but managed to hold onto their narrow lead.
Bendigo opened the scoring five minutes into the match when Drahm finished off a break initiated on the Maroondah quarter line by veteran centre Johneen Fagavao.
Fagavao was prominent for the Miners in the second half with a try of his own and two conversions.
Bendigo’s other try was scored by Henele Fa’avae after concerted pressure by the Bendigo pack inside the Maroondah quarter.
Throughout the match, the Bendigo scrum was under pressure, but the line-out won six turnovers on Maroondah’s throw.
The breakdowns were an arm wrestle, with Bendigo’s Ale Liliva and Rolo Eriesa slightly on top.
Bendigo’s back three of Drahm, Fa’avae, Tevita Latu and replacement Malie Poasi were dangerous on the counter-attack.