Blues finally break through

OUTSTANDING YEAR: Bridgewater's Zeb Broadbent. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN
OUTSTANDING YEAR: Bridgewater's Zeb Broadbent. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

INGLEWOOD has avoided a winless Loddon Valley Football League season after upstaging Mitiamo on Saturday to snap a 27-game losing streak.

The Blues overcame a slow start to stun the Superoos 12.8 (80) to 10.10 (70) at Mitiamo.

It was Inglewood's first win since round four last season when it also defeated the Superoos at Mitiamo, while it also came on the back of the Blues having lost their previous four games by more than 100 points.

"Realistically, we knew this was probably our last chance of winning a game for the year and we spoke before the game that it was time to stop talking and to go out and give everything," Blues coach Isaac Douthie said.

"The boys gave 100 per cent for four quarters and it was just an awesome result."

The Blues were under pressure early when they trailed the Superoos by 24 points at quarter-time, 5.3 to 1.3.

They were still 17 points in arrears at half-time, before lifting after the main break to kick eight goals to three to record the 10-point victory.

"We just kept chipping away at it all game," Douthie said.

"The win is a big confidence-booster for the boys and with a lot of young guys in the team, it shows them just how hard you've got to play to win a game of footy.

"It was a complete team effort right across the board and a great result for all the guys who have stuck it out all year."

Douthie kicked four goals for the Blues, who had Ben Rose, the consistent Jayden Sheean, Joshua Essex and Sam Williams also figure among their top performers. 

Since finishing sixth in 2010, Saturday's victory was just the Blues' third in their past 63 games. Compare that to Bridgewater, which in its past 63 games has won 56.

Aaron McKean, James Drake, Jarad Webster and Matthew Perri (three goals) led the better players for the Superoos in what was a loss coach Denis Grinton described as one of the most disappointing of his 26-year senior football career.

"It was a game of one side that thought it was going to win, and the other that went there to win," Grinton said.

"We got away to a flyer, but at the end of the day, they wanted it more than we did.

"The boys just weren't there to play footy today and it was one of the most disappointing losses I've been involved in... not because we lost to them, but because of the effort we gave."

• Bridgewater withstood a rare challenge this season to defeat Marong by 33 points at Marong Links Oval.

The Panthers closed within 13 points of the Mean Machine at the final change after kicking the last four goals of the third quarter in what was the biggest run-on a side has had this year against the defending champions.

But the Mean Machine held firm in the final term, kicking five goals to two to win 16.13 (109) to 11.10 (76) in what was only the third of their 15 wins this season by less than 50 points.

"We've got through most of the year so far without being seriously challenged, but Marong did that today," Bridgewater coach Andrew Collins said.

"We had to respond in the last quarter and we did that fairly well, which was pleasing.

"It was certainly a good contest and exactly what we need in that we'll take a fair bit from today in knowing we can respond when challenged."

The Mean Machine's win was led by performances from Danny Childs, reigning Harding medallist Adam Parry, Isaac Broadbent and Zac East (three goals), while Collins kicked four goals in the first half.

The Panthers weren't helped when gun onballer Craig Morris (calf) pulled out in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Braden Hender, who had already played four quarters in the reserves.

"Craig has been our best player this year, but despite losing him, the boys still kept their heads up," Marong coach Corey Gregg.

"It obviously put pressure on the midfield to step up more than we were already going to have to, but young players like Nathan Devanny, Zac Turnbull and Kyle Manley were all really good for us.

"Bridgewater is obviously a class outfit, but we'll take a lot of positives out of today. We missed early chances to put scoreboard pressure on them and we showed in the third quarter when we kicked four goals in a row what we're capable of."

Gregg (two goals) was named best for the Panthers, who were also well served by Nathan Devanny, Josh Cooper, Mathew Frankel and Kyle Manley. Josh McKee kicked five goals - the most by any player against Bridgewater this year.

• Pyramid Hill moved back into the top three with a 22-point win over Newbridge.

The Bulldogs had trailed by four points at three quarter-time of what had been a low-scoring contest, but they kicked 4.4 to 0.2 in the final term to win 9.18 (72) to 7.8 (50) at Mitchell Park and end their two-game losing streak.

Pyramid Hill's inaccurate score of 9.18 included coach Paul Grayling in his return to the side kicking 0.8, as well as one out on the full.

"We played some good footy today, but just couldn't capitalise in front of goal," Grayling said.

"I didn't help the cause kicking eight of those 18 points... it wasn't one of my best days in front of the sticks.

"It was a must-win game today as far as the top three goes, but the boys rallied well and did what was asked of them and we got the result."

Pyramid Hill's best included two young players in Nathan Fitzpatrick and Liam Bartels, while Balraj Singh, Jaryd Wishart and Dylan Morison also played fine games for the Bulldogs, who kept intact a record of not having lost more than two games in a row since 2007.

The loss put an end to Newbridge's top-three chances, with the Maroons now consigned to an elimination final in a fortnight, most likely against Marong, who they meet in next week's final round.

"We butchered the footy today. We won plenty of the ball, but didn't look after it enough by foot," Newbridge coach Matt Dillon said.

"It was a solid game of footy, so I couldn't question the endeavour, but our decision-making and ball-use let us down."

Midfielder Jordan Gilboy was again the Maroons' best player, while ruckman Angus Fortune, Justin McEwan and Rhys Ford (two goals) were also named among the better players for Newbridge.

• Bears Lagoon- Serpentine's 107-point win over Calivil United should be enough to earn the Bears the double chance.

With the bye in the final round, the Bears rounded out their home and away season with a 28.17 (185) to 12.6 (78) win over the Demons at Calivil.

The result leaves the Bears a game, plus 14 per cent, inside the top three heading into the final round.

The Bears blew the Demons away early, kicking 10.1 to 3.1 in the first term to lead by 42 points at quarter-time, before their advantage grew to 76 points at half-time.

The Bears' tally of 28 goals included 18 in the first half and 10 in the second, with tall Josh Hutton proving a strong focal point up forward, finishing with a haul of nine.

"It was a good win by the boys today to get a bit of percentage and we're now in a position where we've got to sit back next week and see what happens," Bears coach Damien Featherby said.

"We've got no control over what happens next week, but today was all about making sure we won the game and played to our structures."

As well as Hutton's nine goals, the Bears also had John McIntyre and Josh Martyn kick four each.

The Bears' best featured Hutton, Oliver Collins, Gareth Bowes, Andrew Gladman and Shaun Bowles.

Anthony Dennis bagged five of the Demons' 12 goals - including four in the first half - to be their best player, while Evan Ritchie, Jonas Somerville and Henry Miller also battled hard.

"We haven't kicked 12 goals in a game too often this year, so that's a positive we'll take out of the game today," Demons coach Andrew Freemantle said.


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