THE Bendigo Gold were blown away early by the Box Hill Hawks on Saturday, before competing with the reigning premiers in the second half of their VFL clash.
The Hawks won 16.17 (113) to 7.8 (50) at the Box Hill City Oval.
The Gold were staring at the prospect of a triple-figure hiding at half-time when they trailed the Hawks by 56 points, 11.6 to 2.4.
However, the Gold matched the Hawks’ five goals in the second half, during which they outscored Box Hill 3.2 to 1.5 in the third term.
“I was really proud of the second half effort of the boys today,” Gold coach Aussie Jones said.
"Groups in our position after we were outplayed in the first half could have thrown the towel in after half-time, but our group doesn't do that.
"Apart from self pride and to make sure we finish off the best we can as a group, there wasn't a lot for the boys to play for once the game was out of reach, so to fight it out the way they did is a sign of the character that I continually talk about."
The Gold had no answer to Box Hill's 199cm forward Sam Grimley, who kicked six goals to be the Hawks' best player.
Down the other end, Tyrone Downie kicked four goals for the Gold to take his season tally to 28.
"Tigga was super again for us and I can't speak highly enough of his contribution to the club. He has brought in wholeheartedly and is a genuine leader of men on and off the field," Jones said.
Also among the standouts for the Gold was Devin McFarlane, who was given the job on dual Hawthorn premiership player Brad Sewell.
"Sewell cut us apart in the first quarter. Devin went onto him in a defensive role and Sewell didn't have an influence on the game after quarter-time," Jones said.
Jesse Wallin, who was released into the midfield, the in-form Sam Heavyside, Trent Donnan and skipper Steven Stroobants (two goals) also played strong games.
The Gold now turn their attention to their final game before they fold against Collingwood at the Queen Elizabeth Oval from 6.30pm Friday night.
"We'll certainly enjoy the week leading into Friday night and give it our best shot against Collingwood," Jones said.