Dragons break away from Hawks

SUPER SEASON: Defender Tyler Miles was Eaglehawk's best on Saturday.

SUPER SEASON: Defender Tyler Miles was Eaglehawk's best on Saturday.

SANDHURST has now completed a full set of wins against all its Bendigo Football League rivals after kicking away from Eaglehawk in the final quarter of their clash at Canterbury Park on Saturday.

Just like the previous week against Golden Square, the ladder-leading Dragons withstood a spirited challenge from the Hawks in their 12.18 (90) to  8.9 (57) victory.

While the final margin was 33 points, the game had been up for grabs at three quarter-time.

The Hawks trailed by just six points at three quarter-time as Sandhurst's inaccurate kicking again threatened to bite it.

While the first three quarters had been a scrap dominated by constant stoppages, the game opened up for the Dragons in the final quarter and they shook off the Hawks with five goals to one to kick away.

The dominance of the Dragons in the final quarter when the game was up for grabs was evident in not only their 5.5 to 1.2 on the scoreboard, but their 20 inside 50s to nine as they finished full of run.

Until the final quarter burst from the Dragons, the biggest margin that had separated the two sides had been the 12 points Sandhurst led by during the third term.

"Eaglehawk brought a gameplan to create a contest wherever they could and they did that really well," Sandhurst coach Brett Fitzpatrick said.

"It was good again to see the way the boys were able to stand up in a really physical contest... although, goalkicking is still an issue."

The Dragons' score of 12.18 was the sixth time in their nine games they have kicked more behinds than goals, with their overall tally this season 151 goals and 167 behinds.

Better players for the Dragons were led by the lively Alex Wharton, captain Blair Holmes, centre half-back Matt Thornton, fellow defender Pat Jennings and centre half-forward Ben Anderson.

Anderson, who was particularly dominant in the third quarter, and Nick Stagg kicked two goals each for the Dragons.

Dragons' debutante Joshua Hann was afforded a slice of luck when he was given the all-clear for a goal that was kicked well after the final siren had sounded.

The loss leaves Eaglehawk with a 4-5 record at the halfway mark and still yet to beat any of the other sides currently in the top five.

"We worked hard to limit their outside run in the first three quarters, but they got on top in the last and our defensive running wasn't up to standard," Hawks coach Luke Monaghan said.

"And skill errors really let us down in the last quarter. We had some opportunities, but made some really fundamental mistakes.

"It's a stepping stone in the right direction, but we've got to be better than getting within four goals of these top sides."

Defender Tyler Miles was the Hawks' standout player.

Miles not only held Sandhurst dangerman Mitch Dole goalless for the first time since round eight last year, but also rebounded strongly.

Josh Ketterer, who had the job on gun Dragons' midfielder Ryan Maldens, onballer Brodie Collins and defender Ricky Dudley, who held Ryan Haythorpe to one goal, also played well.

Ryan Wellington kicked four of the Hawks' eight goals in what's a forward line that is sorely lacking the strong marking targets of Matt Gilmore and Pascale Craig.

Of the Hawks' eight goals, two came with the final kicks of a quarter - Brodie Filo snapping on his left from 40m in the second and Wellington in the third.

Among the standout features of the Hawks was their work in the centre square. Eaglehawk dominated the centre clearances 14-7, including 9-3 in the first half.

• Match statistics:

Centre clearances: Sandhurst 7; Eaglehawk 14.

Inside 50s: Sandhurst 58; Eaglehawk 46.

Stoppages: Sandhurst 28; Eaglehawk 32.


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