SANDHURST is back on top of the Bendigo Football Netball League ladder after a 69-point demolition of Gisborne at Gardiner Reserve on Saturday.
There were question marks surrounding Sandhurst’s form in the past month, but the Dragons answered their critics in emphatic style, winning 18.18 (126) to 8.9 (57).
“The way we addressed what we were doing wrong midway through the Castlemaine game and the way the boys acknowledged that… I thought we were drifting back to somewhere near our best form,’’ Sandhurst coach Brett Fitzpatrick said.
“I didn’t expect the performance to be of the enormity it was.”
After an even first quarter, the Dragons’ defensive intensity shut down Gisborne and the home side only managed one goal in each of the second and third terms.
The Dragons kicked seven goals of their own in that period to grab a six a six-goal lead at the final change.
The final quarter was one-way traffic as the Dragons added 7.4 to 2.1.
It’s the second time this season the Dragons have belted Gisborne, having won by 73 points in round seven.
“Sandhurst is the best team we’ve played this season,’’ Gisborne coach Rod Sharp said.
“We haven’t been able to cope with their perceived pressure and they took full advantage of our turnovers.
“Sandhurst’s effort was pretty outstanding.”
Sandhurst had a plethora of contributors, but none were better than midfielder Ryan Maldenis and key position star Matt Thornton.
Maldenis’ work around the stoppages and ball-winning ability was second-to-none.
Thornton started at centre half-back and also enjoyed stints in the ruck and centre half-forward.
Skipper Blair Holmes, swingman Lachlan Ross and ruckman Tim Martin were also instrumental in the win.
The form of forwards Ben Anderson and Mitch Dole would have bought a smile to Fitzpatrick’s face.
Dole bagged 4.4 – his first haul of more than three goals in a game since the win over Golden Square in round eight.
Anderson helped set up the win, kicking three first-half goals.
On a disappointing day for the Bulldogs, defenders Josh Govan and Heath Simpson, skipper Casey Summerfield and Josh Bain were their best contributors.