THE race for the BFNL minor premiership will go down to the wire after Strathfieldsaye handed Gisborne a 69-point belting on Sunday.
The Storm’s big victory combined with Sandhurst’s 56-point win over Golden Square on Saturday saw Strathfieldsaye cut the Dragons’ percentage lead at the top of the table from 6.49 to just 1.94.
The Storm would have been on top of the ladder going into the final round had Gisborne not kicked the final two goals of the game on Sunday.
"It's a little bit disappointing that we gave up those two goals at the end,'' Storm coach Darryl Wilson said.
"We gave up two goals late in the second quarter as well. Apart from those two passages of play we've kept Gisborne to not much at all.
"Overall, we're very happy with the win and we think we're not far away from our best footy."
With Sandhurst hosting sixth-placed Eaglehawk next Saturday and the Storm at home to wooden spooners South Bendigo, the Dragons' 1.94 per cent lead looks shaky.
Sunday’s Storm-Bulldogs clash looked like being a tight contest when Gisborne kicked two of the first three goals of the third term to cut Strathfieldsaye’s lead to 13 points.
However, in the next 20 minutes the Storm showed the Bulldogs why they’re regarded the premiership favourite.
They kicked 7.4 to 0.1 to turn a potentially tight situation into a blowout.
The Storm then added the first four goals of the final quarter at the 24-minute mark they led 116-34.
The Storm’s 11.5 to 0.2 run was broken when Isaac Trickey and Tom May goalled for Gisborne in the dying minutes.
“It was just like last week (against Sandhurst),’’ Gisborne coach Rod Sharp said.
“We turned the footy over too much and it put us under more pressure than we should have been.
“We played well in the first half, but just didn’t make the most of our opportunities. Playing against teams of that quality you have to make the most of your chances.”
Forward Sam Mildren set up the win for the Storm with a stellar first half.
He kicked 4.2 for the game and had a hand in numerous others.
Matt Smith was solid in the midfield and across half-back, while Jayden Donaldson, Kellan Smith and Ash Trollop led a stingy Storm defence.
Gisborne struggled for four-quarter performers.
Trent Crosbie and Josh Govan were serviceable, while Tim Walsh had an entertaining duel with Stephen Milne.
Walsh kept Milne to three goals in the first three quarters before he was moved to full-forward in an attempt to give the Bulldogs a marking target.
Milne finished the match with four goals.
To make matters worse for Gisborne, young gun Pat McKenna was taken to Bendigo Hospital because of chest pain and breathing problems.
McKenna copped a big bump from Strathfieldsaye’s Daniel Geary in the first quarter. He left the ground for treatment, but returned to action in the second term.
Sharp said after half-time McKenna complained of a sore chest and breathing difficulties.
“We’re still waiting to hear what the problem is… hopefully Pat is okay,’’ Sharp said.