IF Newbridge is to meet Bridgewater in the Loddon Valley qualifying final as expected next month, the Maroons will do so having beaten the Mean Machine twice already.
In Saturday’s clash of 2 v 3 the Maroons proved too strong at home for the Mean Machine in winning by 21 points to improve to 10-4.
The Maroons prevailed 11.9 (75) to 8.6 (54), backing up their round seven win over Bridgewater by 27 points earlier in the year.
The victory was a strong response from the Maroons, who in their previous game had copped a 91-point thrashing from Calivil United, while the result ended a seven-game winning streak for Bridgewater.
“We got some quality players back in the side today and played a really hard brand of footy for four quarters,” Newbridge coach Matt Dillon said.
“It could have gone either way for us today after that last effort against Calivil… it could have really bashed our confidence around, but the boys fronted up today and were able to make amends.”
With both teams kicking one goal each in the first quarter, two each in the third and three apiece in the last, it was the Maroons’ second term where they scored 5.3 to 2.1 that proved the decisive period of the game.
Jordan Gilboy was superb in the midfield to be the Maroons’ best player, despite coming off the ground at one stage with concerns he had suffered a cheekbone/eye socket injury.
The Maroons’ 11 goals included Sam Kennedy (five) and Connor Toohey (four) combining for nine.
Newbridge’s back-to-back victories over Bridgewater comes after the Maroons beat the Mean Machine just once in 19 meetings between 2008 and 2016.
Xavier Henderson, who has been one of the Mean Machine’s most consistent players in defence this season, was their best player.
The Mean Machine are now 11-4, with this the first season since 2009 they have lost more than three games.
“We were beaten around the ball for too long today. We had too many players down as individuals and unfortunately, we saw today that our best and worst is too far apart,” said Bridgewater coach Marc Lindsay, who ended the game sidelined with a back injury.
“In a close competition, if you’re not playing to your potential right across the board or are carrying passengers, you’re going to get beaten and that’s what happened to us.”
Tom Kuhne and captain Zeb Broadbent both rolled their ankles, while Lindsay and forward Alex Collins (two goals) played their 100th games for the Mean Machine in the loss.
• Bears Lagoon-Serpentine survived a scare from Maiden Gully YCW, almost blowing a 28-point three quarter-time lead.
The Eagles stormed home with the wind in the final term, kicking 4.4 to 0.2, but those two behinds were enough for the Bears to sneak over the line, 13.11 (89) to 13.9 (87), at home and remain two games inside the top five with two rounds to play.
“We were very patchy all game, and to YCW’s credit, they stuck at it all day and to be honest, probably deserved to win,” Bears coach Greg Gadsden said.
“The positive is that as indifferent as we were today, we were still able to get a win, but we’re going to have to be a lot better over the next couple of weeks.”
The Bears, who had gone into the final term leading 13.9 to 9.5, were best served by Harry Gadsden through the midfield and Josh Walsh off half-back.
The two-point loss denied the Eagles in their bid for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
“It was one of those games where we were able to hang in, and we were then able to get a heap of momentum in the last quarter, but just ran out of time,” Eagles coach Daniel Francis said.
“We were about to send the ball back into our forward line when the siren went, but that’s footy.”
Brayden Aitken kicked four goals and was the Eagles’ best player.
• For the fourth week in a row fifth spot has changed, this time with Pyramid Hill moving from sixth to regain its position in the top five.
The Bulldogs kicked the highest score of the season, while also dishing out Inglewood’s fourth loss by more than 100 points in its past six games with the 26.19 (175) to 11.4 (70) result.
Billy Micevski (five goals) returned to top form for the Bulldogs with a best-on-ground performance, while forward Nathan Fitzpatrick produced his best game of the season, slotting six goals.
The Bulldogs booted nine of their 26 goals in the third quarter and seven in the last.
“The guys were well aware that not only did we need to win, but we needed to win well also to keep our percentage up, so it was pleasing we were able to do so,” Bulldogs co-coach Brad Fawcett said.
The win came at a cost though for the Bulldogs, with hamstring injuries to Matt Klein-Breteler and Trent Barri and Brad Driscoll (cheekbone) also hurt.
Forward Shane Harris (three goals) was named best for the wooden spoon-bound Blues, who also had Jarrod Starr kick four goals.
• Calivil United secured its first top-of-the-ladder finish since 2005 after overcoming a 31-point quarter-time deficit against Marong.
The visiting Panthers, with Brenton Pyper playing his 100th game, got the jump on the Demons to lead 7.3 to 2.2 at quarter-time.
However, the Demons controlled the last three quarters, kicking 13 goals to two to win 15.12 (102) to 9.4 (58), with Matt Magee their best player, while Bryce Curnow bagged six goals.
The Panthers’ side featured three players who had already played in the under-18s earlier in the day – Will Gadsden, Jack O’Hara on debut and Matt Adams.
“The boys had a real crack. We were undermanned and ran out of steam and they had a bit too much firepower for us,” Marong coach Damien Lock said.