Dogs down Hawks to book finals berth

TOP GAME: Ruckman Matt Compston was one of Golden Square's best players against Eaglehawk. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

TOP GAME: Ruckman Matt Compston was one of Golden Square's best players against Eaglehawk. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

GOLDEN Square is headed for its 10th-consecutive Bendigo Football League finals appearance after defeating Eaglehawk by 34 points at Canterbury Park on Saturday.

With two rounds remaining, the 15.10 (100) to 8.18 (66) victory leaves the Bulldogs two games, plus 25 per cent, clear of the sixth-placed Hawks, who are now 0-9 against top-five teams this year.

The Bulldogs set their win up with two match-defining bursts.

The first came in the opening quarter when for the second week in a row, the Hawks were jumped from the outset.

The Bulldogs booted 6.3 to 1.3 in the opening term to lead by 30 points at quarter-time, with full-forward Sam Frawley instrumental in getting Golden Square away to a flyer.

Inside the first five minutes of the game, Frawley - coming off five goals against Maryborough last week - had bagged three goals.

His first came just 15 seconds in when, with the second kick of the game, he brilliantly steered through a 40m snap from the boundary.

Bulldogs' superstar Corey Jones was quick to stamp his authority on the contest, kicking two first-quarter goals, including a clever curling left-foot snap.

The Bulldogs were also at their most damaging in the first 20 minutes of the third quarter.

Having led by 26 points at half-time - 9.5 to 4.9 - the Bulldogs slammed on the first five goals of the third term to blow their advantage out to a game-high 56 points.

Those five goals in a row - kicked by Frawley, Jones (two), Dale Lowry and Jack Daley - were kickstarted from the Bulldogs' domination out of the middle.

Of the Bulldogs' final score of 15.10, they kicked 11.4 through the first quarter and the 20-minute patch of the third term, during which the Hawks were held to just 1.4.

Frawley finished with six goals for the Bulldogs, backing up his three from the first quarter with two in the second and one in the third.

The creative Jones was superb all game playing his customary mix of midfield and forward, finishing with four goals, but he should have kicked five after missing the easiest shot he had all day in the first quarter.

Matt Compston impressed in the ruck, while hard-running midfielder Daley continues to grow his reputation with another outstanding game.

One of the highlights for the Bulldogs' was Jayden Burke on debut kicking his first senior goal in the final term and he later led the team off the field.

"The effort was certainly up on last week (loss to Maryborough) and that was the pleasing thing," Bulldogs coach Nick Carter said.

"At times we needed to control the play a little better, but overall, our intensity and hardness at the footy was an improvement on last week. It's going to need to go up two or three notches to beat those sides like Strathfieldsaye, Sandhurst and Gisborne, but today was a step back in the right direction."

The Bulldogs ended the game with four players on the bench unable to come back on - Jack Geary (concussion), who had been integral in setting Golden Square alight early, Harry Donegan (back), Tim Lechter (hamstring) and Matt Tyrell (back).

The Hawks ended the game with more scoring shots and inside-50s than the Bulldogs, but they were dictated to early in the game and constantly squandered opportunities, which they couldn't afford after giving up the 30-point advantage in the first term.

Their inaccuracy was at its most glaring in the second quarter when they kicked 3.6 and the final term when they scored 1.7.

"We weren't disciplined enough to play to the structures we wanted to and when a couple of guys go away from it, it only takes one or two weak links and the chain gets broken and that's what happened today," Eaglehawk coach Luke Monaghan said.

"And they made the most of their opportunities, whereas we didn't take ours. We just didn't bring the right mindset today and were outclassed."

In his first game since round six after overcoming a broken scaphoid, midfielder Ben McPhee was a tireless worker to be the Hawks' best player.

After missing last week, Brodie Filo showed his usual flair in his return and kicked two third-quarter goals, while winger Sam Thompson - who was involved in a heavy collision with Donegan in the third term - was also one of the best.

• Match statistics:

Centre clearances: Golden Square 15; Eaglehawk 12.

Inside 50s: Golden Square 47; Eaglehawk 48.

Stoppages: Golden Square 19; Eaglehawk 18.


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