FOR the second time this season Colbinabbin and Huntly have gone down to the wire against each other in the Heathcote District league.
But unlike round five when the Hawks won by six points, this time it was the Grasshoppers who prevailed on Saturday at home.
In a pivotal match between the two teams vieing for third spot and the double chance, the Grasshoppers snuck over the line by five points, 14.13 (97) to 14.8 (92), in only their third win in their past 10 clashes against the Hawks.
The victory keeps the Grasshoppers in third position, with their buffer on the Hawks – who have a game in hand – now eight points, plus 22.3 per cent, with four rounds remaining.
“I’m really proud of the boys… Huntly being the quality side they are just kept coming and over the past couple of years those sort of games haven’t gone our way,” Grasshoppers coach Nick Knight said.
“To show the character we did in the last quarter, I was really pleased with all the boys who took to the field.”
The game was nip-and-tuck all match, with the biggest margin at any of the breaks the nine points Colbinabbin led by at half-time.
The win was the Grasshoppers’ fourth in a row in which they have built from 5-4 to a 9-4 record.
“We’re pleased with the way we’re playing, but improvement is the key for our group and we just want to keep getting better,” said Knight, who kicked five goals, but had enough opportunities to boot 10.
Pat O’Brien played a superb captain’s game to be Colbinabbin’s best.
“Patty was super today. He was thrown all over the place in terms of positions, but he stood up and led from the front,” Knight said.
Another of the Grasshoppers’ leaders, Sam Vale, was also a standout.
“Sammy has taken his game to a new level. He’s very good at the contest and better now at spreading from the contest,” Knight said.
The Hawks’ better players were led by Daniel Paterson and consistent defender Steve Kairn. Harry Whittle kicked three goals.
The Hawks outscored the Grasshoppers in all but the second quarter when Colbinabbin kicked 6.3 to 4.1.
• Mount Pleasant and Elmore went into their clash with two wins apiece, and are both still stuck on two after they played out the first draw of the season.
The Blues had five more scoring shots, but scores were level at the final siren – Mount Pleasant 15.15 (105) to the Bloods’ 16.9 (105) at Toolleen.
Scores had also been even at half-time, 6.7 apiece, while the Blues had gone into the final quarter nine points in front.
“It was a game that could have gone either way at the end… Mounts had more scoring shots than us, but we let ourselves down with some basic errors,” Elmore coach Danny Brewster said.
“The lead changed plenty of times throughout and ended a draw – it’s the worst feeling in football.”
Brewster was the leading forward on the ground with seven goals, Travis Mills also had an influence inside 50 with four goals to be Elmore’s best player, and the recently-elevated Ben Poole played well off half-back.
While the Blues didn’t get the four points, the draw ended seven losses in a row.
Their tally of 105 was a major improvement for the Blues, who had averaged a score of just 32 during their seven losses in a row.
Kris Clifford kicked four goals for the Blues, whose best were led by Nick Butler and Adam Richardson.
Mount Pleasant and Elmore previously drew in a bizarre result in 2001 given the Blues won the flag that season, while the Bloods didn’t win a game.
• For the third game in a row Leitchville-Gunbower kicked a mammoth score of more than 200 – this time against Heathcote in a 185-point flogging.
The Bombers’ red-hot form continued with their 33.20 (218) to 5.3 (33) win at Gunbower, with Matt Perri moving closer to the century with a haul of 13 goals to lift his season tally to 84.
In the past three weeks the ruthless Bombers have kicked scores of 218, 212 and 203 – a combined 95.63 – in wins over the Saints, Elmore and Mount Pleasant by a total of 543 points.
The Bombers, who are now 11-1, have lifted their average winning margin for the season to 114 points, which has surpassed that of undefeated juggernaut North Bendigo (110).
Perri’s 13 goals are the most by a Bombers’ player since they joined the league in 2010, while it was the third time this season he has kicked a double-figure bag.
“We got smashed through the midfield and Perri was getting some silver service,” Saints coach Luke Bell said.
“If you have a player like that getting the ball delivered to him the way it was today then he’s going to hit the scoreboard.”
The Bombers’ domination included outscoring the Saints 21.8 to 0.1 in the second and third quarters.
As well as best-on-ground Perri’s 13 goals, the Bombers also had Ayden Walton kick seven and Jack Dye boot five.
The 185-point defeat was the third time this season the Saints have lost by more than 180 points.
Their cause wasn’t helped by injuries to defender Brayden Klemke (hamstring), Jack Paisley (ankle), Toby Allen (thigh) and Reece Carmichael having to leave the game early for work.
Luke Podhajski kicked three of the five goals for the Saints, whose best player was midfielder Dylan McCutcheon.
• In a clash of the two teams that have combined for the past six premierships, North Bendigo defeated Lockington-Bamawm United by 98 points.
The Bulldogs won 19.9 (123) to 3.7 (25) at Lockington in a game where they did the bulk of their damage in the third quarter.
Having led by 43 points at half-time, the Bulldogs extended their advantage to 91 at the final change after booting 9.2 to 1.1 in the third term.
The Bulldogs were forced to play most of the game two players short after Sean Morris (concussion) and captain Jordan Ford (eye) were sidelined early.
“It was more improved today to what we had been in the past couple of weeks, especially in the third quarter when we got back to where we wanted to be,” North Bendigo coach Rob Bennett said.
Star forward Sam Barnes bagged eight goals for the third time this season to now have 48 for the Bulldogs, whose best was gun ruckman Brett Strange.
Darcy McCallum kicked two of the three goals for the Cats and was named their best player in what was the first time in their past six games against North Bendigo they have kept their losing margin to under 100 points.