BFNL's flag battle to savour in September | PHOTOS

TIGHT: Strathfieldsaye's nine-point win over Golden Square in the qualifying final has been the biggest margin in the BFNL finals series so far.
TIGHT: Strathfieldsaye's nine-point win over Golden Square in the qualifying final has been the biggest margin in the BFNL finals series so far.

THE 2017 finals series has broken new ground for the Bendigo Football-Netball League under the top-five format.

BFNL fans have been treated to a roller-coaster opening two weeks of finals, where the four senior matches have been decided by a combined 21 points.

There has been less than a kick in three of the finals, with the biggest margin being the nine points Strathfieldsaye defeated Golden Square by in the qualifying final.

With the other three results margins of five, four and three points, it’s the first time in the history of the BFNL top-five finals format introduced in 1983 that there have been four games decided by single-figures.

While all four games have gone down to the wire, they have all followed the script of the ladder in terms of the higher-ranked team winning, which bodes well for Strathfieldsaye in this Saturday’s preliminary final against Golden Square, yet the two week one games bucked the previous home and away results.

Strathfieldsaye lost both games against qualifying final opponent Golden Square in the home and away season, while Sandhurst hadn’t beaten elimination final combatant Kyneton – albeit the Dragons had drawn with the Tigers in round four.

However, both the Storm and Dragons prevailed on what was a gripping first weekend of finals that was backed up again the following week.

Across the four finals played so far, the biggest margin of any of the quarter breaks has been the 11 points Kyneton led Sandhurst by at quarter-time in the elimination final, and Golden Square led the Dragons by at half-time in the first semi-final.

Strathfieldsaye led Eaglehawk by 30 points during the second term of last Saturday’s second semi-final, but by half-time the Hawks were back within five points.

Averaged out over the four games, there has been just 5.6 points separating teams when the siren has sounded to signal the end of a quarter.

All that is missing so far has been a final sent into extra-time – the last of which was the 2004 second semi-final when Sandhurst eventually outlasted Gisborne by four points en route to the premiership.

Since the first year of the BFNL top five in 1983 when eventual premier Sandhurst, Golden Square, Northern United, South Bendigo and North Bendigo made the finals, 1994 had been the only September to feature more than two finals matches decided by single figures.

There were three in 1994 – Maryborough beating Sandhurst by three points in the elimination; Golden Square pipping Kyneton by one in the qualifying; and Kyneton beating Maryborough by eight in the first semi.

But that has now been trumped in what’s proving to be a BFNL September to remember that has the two biggest games still to come.

• 2017 finals series senior results:

Qualifying – Strathfieldsaye 9.19 73 def Golden Square 10.4 64

Margins at each break – 7, 10, 6, 9

Elimination – Sandhurst 12.18 90 def Kyneton 13.7 85

Margins at each break – 11, 3, 4, 5

2nd semi – Eaglehawk 14.13 97 def Strathfieldsaye 14.10 94

Margins at each break – 0, 5, 4, 3

1st semi – Golden Square 7.13 55 def Sandhurst 6.15 51

Margins at each break – 9, 11, 0, 4

………………………………….

• Bendigo league top-five finals series year-by-year:

1983

Margins – 125 (elimination), 61 (qualifying), 54 (1st semi), 41 (2nd semi), 57 (preliminary), 7(grand final).

Average – 57.5 points

Premier – Sandhurst

………………………………….

1984

56, 29, 68, 44, 10, 42

Average – 41.5

Premier – Northern

United

………………………………….

1985

86, 9, 49, 17, 62, 30 

Average – 42.2

Premier – Northern 

United

………………………………….

1986

19, 24, 25, 10, 19, 89 

Average – 31.0

Premier – Northern 

United

………………………………….

1987

15, 20, 2, 66, 11, 62

Average – 29.3

Premier – Northern 

United

………………………………….

1988

50, 36, 79, 2, 16, 14 

Average – 32.8

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

1989

59, 9, 31, 5, 40, 18

Average – 27.0

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

1990

 55, 31, 22, 84, 36, 22 

Average – 41.7

Premier – South Bendigo

………………………………….

1991

2, 12, 118, 43, 6, 22

Average – 33.8

Premier – South Bendigo

………………………………….

1992

16, 26, 46, 100, 46, 5 

Average – 39.8

Premier – Castlemaine

………………………………….

1993

15, 42, 25, 36, 18, 65 

Average – 33.5

Premier – South Bendigo

………………………………….

1994

3, 1, 8, 70, 35, 48 

Average – 27.5

Premier – South Bendigo

………………………………….

1995

26, 26, 28, 49, 37, 45  

Average – 35.2

Premier – Kyneton

………………………………….

1996

27, 18, 70, 31, 109,

Average – 43.5

Premier – Kangaroo Flat

………………………………….

1997

18, 13, 60, 3, 1, 67

Average – 27.0

Premier – Kyneton

………………………………….

1998

23, 39, 40, 47, 68, 47 

Average – 44.0

Premier – Maryborough

………………………………….

1999

7, 44, 39, 14, 6, 31

Average – 23.5

Premier – Maryborough

………………………………….

2000

64, 23, 56, 10, 48, 12 

Average – 35.5

Premier – Castlemaine

………………………………….

2001

49, 28, 23, 58, 13, 14

Average – 30.8

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2002

45, 97, 7, 79, 4, 27

Average – 43.2

Premier – Gisborne

………………………………….

2003

29, 21, 12, 22, 63, 47 

Average – 32.3

Premier – Gisborne

………………………………….

2004

18, 15, 46, 4, 65, 29

Average – 29.5

Premier – Sandhurst

………………………………….

2005

45, 17, 27, 128, 26, 31 

Average – 45.7

Premier – Gisborne

………………………………….

2006

18, 26, 52, 14, 120, 25

Average – 42.5

Premier – Gisborne

………………………………….

2007

18, 114, 50, 7, 59, 2 

Average – 41.7

Premier – Eaglehawk

………………………………….

2008

68, 28, 29, 24, 25, 6

Average – 30.0

Premier – Eaglehawk

………………………………….

2009

65, 108, 57, 41, 32, 37 

Average – 56.7

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2010

15, 38, 71, 44, 56, 29 

Average – 42.2

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2011

50, 24, 55, 43, 6, 135

Average – 52.2

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2012

43, 13, 39, 36, 19, 3

Average – 25.5

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2013

41, 4, 64, 8, 19, 21

Average – 26.2

Premier – Golden Square

………………………………….

2014

25, 42, 4, 42, 5, 55

Average – 28.8

Premier – Strathfieldsaye

………………………………….

2015

26, 18, 47, 41, 77, 7 

Average – 36.0

Premier – Strathfieldsaye

………………………………….

2016

55, 54, 6, 53, 19, 32 

Average – 36.5

Premier – Sandhurst

………………………………….

2017 so far

9, 5, 3, 4

Average – 5.2