AFTER seven years as the undisputed power in the Loddon Valley league, it’s clear Bridgewater has finally slipped right back to the pack that had been chasing it for so long.
For the first time since 2009 the Mean Machine have lost two games in a row after they were beaten by 27 points by Newbridge at home on Saturday on the back of a loss to Calivil United the previous round.
While the Mean Machine remains the most sought-after scalp in the competition given their seven-year reign at the top, their aura of invisibility following a major off-season player turnover has evaporated.
Newbridge’s 15.6 (96) to 10.9 (69) triumph was the Maroons’ first over the Mean Machine since 2012 and was a result that gives them the credibility-boost they were seeking.
“It was one of the more complete games we’ve played. We wanted to play with pressure for as long as we could and I thought we did that pretty well,” Newbridge coach Matt Dillon said.
“We’re not getting carried away with the result. We’ve got to back it up again next week, but it was pleasing that after showing glimpses in games, we were able to play well for four quarters today. Everyone in the 22 did their job.”
The Maroons, coming off a 21-day break, burst out of the blocks, racing to a 22-point lead at quarter-time, 5.2 to 1.4.
“We knew we needed to start well, which we did. But one of the most pleasing parts of today was when Bridgewater got a couple of run-ons, we didn’t fall in a hole and were able to fight back,” said Dillon, who was concussed during the second quarter.
Ruckman Tyler Romeril and onballers Jordan Gilboy and Brad Comer (two goals) were again the Maroons’ three best players.
The Mean Machine were best served by midfielder Tom Broadbent, wingman Kevin Bloom and Xavier Henderson in the backline, while full-forward Alex Collins snared four goals.
“It was a fierce and competitive game, but it was disappointing we couldn’t apply any scoreboard pressure in the first half,” Bridgewater coach Marc Lindsay said.
“We found ourselves behind all day. We played some good periods in the third quarter and in the last, but it wasn’t enough to get in a situation to win.”
After kicking 2.7 in the first half to trail by 33 points, the Mean Machine straightened up after half-time with 8.2, but by then the damage had been done.
With the loss the Mean Machine are now 4-3 – still a respectable record, but not what the league has been accustomed to for so long with Bridgewater.
“We’ve had a big personnel change with 10 out from last year. We’re not making excuses, but it’s the reality of the situation for us,” Lindsay said.
“Rather than being at the top of our game week in, week out, we’re on a bit of a roller-coaster and today was like that during the game. We were good at times and flat at others and it’s up to us to iron that out and be better for longer.
“Having three losses isn’t ideal, but we’ll work hard to resurrect it and look forward to trying to improve.”
• In the first game of the season decided by a triple-figure margin, top side Calivil United thumped Marong by 103 points.
The Demons improved to 6-0 with the 25.16 (166) to 8.15 (63) result at Marong.
Bryce Curnow had another big day up forward for the Demons with a haul of seven goals, while Lachlan O’Neill (four), Ben Haines (four), Vincent Rodi (three) and Luke Marchesi (three) also kicked multiples.
The best for the Demons was Matt Magee, while no best players were listed in what was a disappointing showing at home by the Panthers, who are now 1-5.
“The effort wasn’t there today… it was pathetic really and there’s nothing much at all we can take out of today,” disappointed Marong coach Damien Lock said.
“I came here today really positive that we could win the game with Calivil having a few out, but we just didn’t compete and it’s really hard to cop an effort like that.
“We’re just not playing with the desire you need to win games of footy at any level. It’s hard times at the moment, but we’ll turn it around.”
• Bears Lagoon-Serpentine wrote the next chapter in its stunning story of improvement.
Last year’s winless wooden-spooners improved to 5-1 by dishing out a 95-point hiding to Maiden Gully YCW Eagles at Marist College.
The Bears conceded just one goal in the first half on the way to a 21.15 (141) to 7.4 (46) win.
Of the Bears’ 21 goals, they kicked nine in the last quarter as they never let-up on the Eagles.
Rhys Deacon, Nathan Twigg and James Rippingale kicked three goals each, with the trio among a spread of 12 Bears’ goalkickers.
“It was probably the first time for the year we’ve had a really strong four-quarter performance and the way we ran the game out was very pleasing,” Bears coach Greg Gadsden said.
“We went there today expecting it to be a big test on their big ground, but it probably suited us in being able to move the ball fairly freely and get some good run.”
Better players for the Bears featured Zac Stone, Nick Arthur, who is having a fine season, and Andrew Gladman.
In what was a step backwards for the Eagles after an encouraging first five games, they were best served by Jake Klemm, Elijah Naylor and Bailey Graham.
• Following a 1-3 start to the season, Pyramid Hill is back square at 3-3.
The Bulldogs beat Inglewood for the 20th-consecutive time with a comfortable 19.10 (124) to 7.9 (51) victory at Pyramid Hill.
It was apparent at half-time that the Bulldogs’ decade of dominance over the Blues would continue when they led by 44 points at the main break.
“We had control for a lot of the day and moved the footy well at times. Our method and the way we’re going about our footy has definitely improved over the past couple of games, but there’s still plenty to work on,” Bulldogs co-coach Brad Fawcett said.
On-ballers Billy Micevski (two goals) and Andrew Dobby both provided plenty of drive to be the Bulldogs’ two best players, while a variety of 10 goalkickers included Joe McGrath (five), Sam Kennedy (three) and Steven Gunther (three).
James Essex kicked four of the seven goals for the winless Inglewood. For the fourth time in their six games, Brandon Worner was the Blues’ best player.