Eagles upstage Maroons

CLEARING KICK: Newbridge's Tyson Holt during Saturday's one-point loss to YCW.
CLEARING KICK: Newbridge's Tyson Holt during Saturday's one-point loss to YCW.

YCW became the first bottom four side to beat one of the Loddon Valley Football League's top five teams this season after upsetting Newbridge by one point at Backhaus Oval on Saturday.

A week after copping a 173-point belting from Bridgewater, YCW coach Pat Jess questioned the character of his playing group and they responded, winning 11.11 (77) to 10.16 (76) against a Maroons' side that squandered constant opportunities late to snatch the game.

"After the defeat last week, I spoke to the guys about there being two ways we can go. We can either throw the towel in for the season, or we can knuckle down and learn from it," Jess said.

"I questioned the character of the playing group all week and their ability to regroup and still have confidence in our gameplan to carry it out.

"We've set ourselves for a top five scalp all year and this was our last chance and the guys really responded, particularly the younger guys in that 18 to 22 age bracket.

"The boys redeemed themselves today, and the frustrating part about this year is I know what we're capable of if we play with intensity, attack the ball hard and play aggressive footy, but the gap between our good and bad is just too much."

Jess - who will step down as coach at the end of the season - admits his Eagles got out of jail against Newbridge, which had four more scoring shots than YCW and peppered the goals in the last quarter for a return of 3.6.

"We'll take the win knowing that we could have easily lost it," Jess said.

"But it was a good test of character in that we kept working hard and stuck to our style of play when we were under pressure."

Tim Wood kicked five goals for YCW to be the Eagles' best player, while youngster Jordan Crisp received high praise from Jess for his run-with role on Maroons' star Lachlan Ford.

"He's a young kid in his second year of senior footy, who has been in a back pocket all year. We gave him the job on Ford in the middle, which was a huge task, and he did an outstanding job to shut down one of the best midfielders in the league," Jess said.

Matthew Waterson, Leighton Driscoll and Nicholas Waterson were other prominent players for the Eagles, who had lost their previous five games against the Maroons by at least 50 points.

Saturday's loss was the fourth in the past six games for the Maroons and dropped them two games outside the top three with three rounds remaining.

"It was a poor effort all day... our disposal was terrible, we couldn't handle their pressure and just kept giving it back to them," Newbridge coach Matt Dillon said.

"They led us to the footy and outnumbered us all day.

"When the game was still there to be won in the last quarter we stepped up, but we should never have got into that position."

Shaun Knott, Jordan Gilboy and Brad Comer played well for the Maroons, while key forward Rhys Ford kicked five goals to move to 64 for the season.

"We're a long way off it at the moment and need to get some confidence back in each other because that has dropped off after a few losses," Dillon said.

• Bears Lagoon- Serpentine's solid form continued as it won the clash of two top three sides against Pyramid Hill by 47 points at Mitchell Park.

After a tight opening term, the Bears kicked 11 goals to five after quarter-time to win 13.17 (95) to 7.6 (48) in a battle with plenty of heat.

The win was the Bears' fifth in a row as they improved to 10-4 after earlier starting the season 0-2.

Midfielders Nathan McNally (three goals) - who has been his side's best player four of the past five games - and Gareth Bowes and ruckman James Orr were among the top performers for the Bears, while Josh Martyn kicked four goals.

The loss ended Pyramid Hill's five-game winning streak, with the match slipping from the Bulldogs' grasp during the second term when the Bears slammed on seven goals to two.

"We were too unaccountable and very patchy," said Bulldogs coach Paul Grayling, who played the game out, despite a hip flexor problem.

"They moved the ball very well and there was a lack of concentration for 10 minutes in the second quarter that cost us four or five goals and that was the game. We just weren't up to the task today."

Key tall Balraj Singh (two goals), who played ruck, back and forward, Leigh Davies and Gavin James led the better players for the Bulldogs, who face an even tougher task next week at Bridgewater.

• Marong defeated Calivil United by 73 points in a game where the Panthers blitzed the first half, but dropped off in the second.

The Panthers led by 51 points at quarter-time and 78 at half-time - 16.6 to 3.6 - and a major boost to their percentage was on the offering.

However, the Demons outscored the Panthers six goals to five in the second half, with the final score a 21.15 (141) to 9.14 (68) win to Marong.

"Our first quarter was the best footy we've played since I've been at the club. We won the ball out of the middle, used it well and our forwards created space for one another really well," Marong coach Corey Gregg said.

"But after half-time we stopped working for each other and our work-rate dropped off. We went back to our old ways of kicking and hoping, not giving off handballs or hitting our short kicks, so it was one of those days where the supporters would have seen the best and worst of us.

"It was a frustrating day with the way we dropped off, but at the end of the day, it was a 12-goal win."

Josh McKee and Lachlan Frankel kicked five goals each for the Panthers, who also had Kyle Manley (three goals), Craig Morris (two goals) and Joshua Cooper among their better players.

Richard Tibbett chipped in with three goals in his return from a hamstring injury.

Saturday was the second time this season the Demons had been jumped by the Panthers early, with their 51-point quarter-time deficit coming after they had been 27 points behind Marong at the first break in round five.

Alex Davis (two goals), Justin Hynes, Jordan Lea and Anthony Dennis played well for the Demons in their 11th loss of the season.

• Bridgewater dished out its customary hiding, this time to Mitiamo by 97 points, 20.17 (137) to 5.10 (40).

The Mean Machine led by 41 points at half-time, but the game would have been tighter had the Superoos taken their chances after they kicked 2.7 to the main break.

"Mitiamo with their style that clogged up our forward line made it tough for us. Getting numbers back made it harder for them to score, but it definitely made it hard for us to score at times, too," said Bridgewater coach Andy Collins, who starred again with eight goals.

"But we did a good job today, particularly our midfielders with their work-rate. Mitiamo made us work hard, but we were up to the challenge."

Marc Lindsay won plenty of the ball and used it well to be Bridgewater's best player, with others to impress for the unbeaten reigning premiers including Zeb Broadbent, whose fine season continued, Tom Kuhne, Zac East and Adam Parry.

In his first game since May, athletic tall Taylor Strachan kicked three goals.

Mitiamo - which kicked three of its five goals in the last quarter - was best served by James Drake, Matthew Perri, James Ginnivan and Nathan Twigg.

"They were far too good for us... their work-rate and use of the footy was really strong and they are very disciplined with the zones they play," Mitiamo coach Denis Grinton said.

"We had chances in the first half to be right in the game, but we just missed too many easy opportunities."

Saturday was the third consecutive game Bridgewater has held its opposition to five goals or less.


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