Dragons shrug off Magpies' challenge

ON TARGET: Matt Thornton kicks one of his two goals against Castlemaine on Saturday. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

ON TARGET: Matt Thornton kicks one of his two goals against Castlemaine on Saturday. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

AT first glance, a 104-point winning margin at the Queen Elizabeth Oval would suggest Sandhurst had it all its own way against Castlemaine in their Bendigo Football League match on Saturday.

However, the Dragons took until midway through the third term to shrug off the Magpies before eventually kicking away to a 22.16 (148) to 6.8 (44) victory.

The Magpies restricted Sandhurst to just seven goals for the first two-and-a-half quarters, during which they were still within striking distance of 22 points as the Dragons led 7.10 to 4.6.

But after bottom side Castlemaine battled bravely to keep in the game against the second-placed Sandhurst, the floodgates finally opened midway through the third term as the Dragons slammed on 15 goals to two over the last 41 minutes of the match to blow the margin out.

"I don’t think the scoreboard indicated how we played. I thought we were brilliant in the first half," Castlemaine coach Shane Robertson said.

"But it was just that inexperience and mindset of the guys to be able to apply pressure for four quarters, which was similar to against Strathfieldsaye a couple of weeks ago."

There were ominous signs early for the Magpies when the Dragons kicked the opening three goals of the game through Nick Stagg, Jake Twycross and Blair Holmes.

But the Magpies responded with four of the next five goals and by the seven-minute mark of the second quarter were within three points.

The Magpies' fourth goal was a beauty from youngster Kalan Huntly when he marked on the wing, backed himself and took two bounces and launched a 45-metre shot that sailed through at the city end.

Huntly's goal would be the Magpies' last until midway through the final term.

However, while the Magpies' scoring dried up, they held firm down the other end and were still in the game at half-time, although, they were helped by the all-too-familiar inaccuracy of Sandhurst, which had 6.9 on the board at the main break as it led by 17 points.

But the beginning of the end came for the Magpies when Sandhurst's Lachlan Ross landed a 45-metre set-shot at the 16-minute mark of the third term following an earlier goal from Lee Coghlan.

Ross' major sparked five goals in the last 11 minutes of the quarter for the Dragons, who opened the gap to 51 points at the final change, before putting the Magpies to the sword in the final term when they slammed on 10.6 to 2.1.

Ross again showed why he's one of the best set-shots for goal in the BFL as he finished with five, while team-mate Mitch Dole kicked three.

The best player for the Dragons was creative half-back Codie Price, who provided plenty of rebound and on a day where the skills weren't pretty, he used the ball well.

Price capped his game with two last-quarter goals on the run from the swimming pool flank.

The pacy Harry O'Meara also generated back-half run, while midfielders Lee Coghlan - who was dominant in the centre square in the final term - and the tenacious Nick Stagg picked up from where they left off the previous week against Kangaroo Flat.

The Magpies' ability to compete with the Dragons until midway through the third quarter was a vastly improved performance on round six when they were belted by Sandhurst by 151 points.

"While the margin was disappointing, we're a 10-goal better side on last time... the boys need to believe that going into training this week," Robertson said.

One of the areas the Magpies dominated was the stoppages around the ground, winning 23-15, while they also competed well in the middle until the Dragons won the centre breaks 8-2 in their final term onslaught.

Midfielder Kaman Ogilvie was responsbile for many of the Magpies' clearances to be one of the standouts for Castlemaine, along with Tom Godsell, who played in the ruck and defence, consistent backman David Stephens and wingman Huntly (two goals), while Brian Mustafa kept plenty of heat on Dragons' star Ryan Maldenis (two goals).

Match statistics:

Centre clearances: Sandhurst 18; Castlemaine 11.

Inside 50s: Sandhurst 64; Castlemaine 41.

Stoppages: Sandhurst 15; Castlemaine 23.

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