MAIDEN Gully YCW Eagles squandered the chance to claim the coveted scalp of Bridgewater in the Loddon Valley league on Saturday.
Chasing their first win against Bridgewater since 2011, the Eagles led by 11 points at three quarter-time and kicked the first goal of the final term to extend their advantage.
However, the Mean Machine – like a champion team does – dug deep and rallied at home, kicking seven of the last nine goals of the game to prevail by 14 points, 15.12 (102) to 13.10 (88), and improve to 4-1.
“It was a game we had an opportunity to win, but we let it slip, which is disappointing,” Eagles coach Daniel Francis said.
“We took a lot of positives out of the game, but we couldn’t quite get the job done.
“They have some quality players in their side and a couple of their guys really stood up in the last 10 minutes and took the game away from us.
“Zeb Broadbent probably had 10 crucial touches in the last 10 minutes for them, Alex Collins kicked some late goals, their coach Marc Lindsay got some crucial centre clearances that we couldn’t contain and Darren Clutton took some strong marks after being switched forward.”
While the Eagles were beaten, the 14-point margin was a massive improvement on the 101-point average they had lost their previous 10 games against the Mean Machine by.
Key forward Alex Collins continued his solid start to the season for the Mean Machine with a haul of six goals to take his tally to 20, while coach Marc Lindsay slotted three.
Tom Kuhne, star skipper Zeb Broadbent and Collins were the best for the Mean Machine, who booted seven goals in the final term after kicking just eight for the first three quarters.
Skipper Cohen Kekich and Natnael McLaren kicked three goals each for the Eagles, who were best served in defence by Bailey Graham.
“Bailey has been outstanding for us and has allowed Cohen Kekich to play forward,” Francis said.
“He’s a really good intercept mark, reads the game well and makes good decisions with the ball.”
• Calivil United is the only unbeaten team left standing after five rounds.
The Demons continued their impressive start to the season with a 39-point victory against Newbridge at Riverside Oval, 21.10 (136) to 15.7 (97).
“It wasn’t one of the prettiest games, even though it was high-scoring… there was a fair bit of pressure applied from both teams,” said Demons coach Anthony Dennis, who kicked two goals.
“Playing Newbridge at Newbridge is always a big challenge with the way they play their ground, so we were pleased with the win.”
The Demons extended their advantage at every break, with key recruit Bryce Curnow proving a headache for the Maroons in snaring seven goals.
“We played him on the ball in the first half, and then got a good match-up and pushed him deep in the second half where he gave us a good focal point,” Dennis said.
As well as Curnow, others to play well for the Demons included tenacious onballer Jake Lawry and ruckman Chris Down.
Down had an entertaining battle with Newbridge ruckman Tyler Romeril, who was one of the Maroons’ best, along with Jordan Gilboy (two goals) and Ash Grant. Chris Dixon kicked four goals.
The Demons played the last three quarters one player down after Sam Green was forced off the ground with back spasms.
Calivil United will now look forward to a big showdown in round six against Bridgewater in what’s a clash that pits the heavyweight champion of the past seven years against the up-and-coming challenger.
“It’s going to be a good gauge to see where we’re at. Even though they’ve lost some quality players, I still rate them as the best team obviously coming off seven premierships in a row,” Dennis said.
• Mitiamo inflicted Bears Lagoon-Serpentine’s first loss of the season.
The Superoos kicked 11 goals to three after quarter-time to win 12.11 (83) to 7.13 (55) at Mitiamo.
“They came out of the blocks and started really well… they were four goals up at one stage in the first quarter and were creating really well for each other,” Mitiamo coach Justin Maddern said.
“But we readjusted at quarter-time and were able to go into half-time a couple of goals up and control the game from there.
“We lifted our intensity around the ball after quarter-time and spread really well, so that was pleasing.”
Maddern kicked seven of the Superoos’ 12 goals to have a significant impact on the contest, while ruckman Mitch Sidebottom, midfielders Terry Reeves and Luke Scott and Matt Wiegard in defence also impressed.
Sidebottom carried a heavy load as the Superoos were without fellow big man Michael I’Anson.
Better players for the Bears – who led by 19 points at quarter-time – included Rhys Deacon and Nick Arthur, who both kicked two goals, and Nicholas Treseder.
• In the clash of two teams chasing their first wins of the season, it was Marong that emerged victorious against Inglewood by nine points.
The Panthers recovered from a 14-point deficit at three quarter-time, kicking four goals to one in the final term to triumph 13.16 (94) to 12.13 (85).
Five goals from Ryan Wellington aided the cause for the Panthers, who were also well led by by Aaron Bateson (two goals), Jarrod Fitzpatrick and Bryce Franzini.
Forward Shane Harris (three goals) was the best for the Blues. Brandon Worner, Zach Raeburn and Ben Smith (two goals) were others who battled hard.