CENTRAL Murray avenged its loss to Heathcote District of two years ago, recording a 43-point inter-league win at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday.
Unlike 2015 when Heathcote District won a shootout by 29 points – also at the QEO – this time Central Murray was too slick and polished as it prevailed 17.16 (118) to 11.9 (75).
Heathcote District was coached by assistant Nick Carter – a more-than-handy substitute – until high-profile head coach Dean Laidley arrived at the 17-minute mark of the third quarter, at which stage his side was 37 points down.
Saturday’s inter-league game clashed with Laidley’s club coaching commitments with Camberwell Grammar, which played away to Peninsula Grammar at 10.30am.
Laidley had made it known to the league from the outset that given his travel he would be unlikely to be at the QEO until 3pm.
The game started at 1.30pm.
“The league and players were all aware from day one of Dean’s situation with his Camberwell Grammar commitments and that’s why we had Nick Carter as back-up,” said Heathcote District board member Peter Cole, who orchestrated the Laidley appointment.
Central Murray set the win up with its dominant first and third quarters kicking to the Barnard Street end.
From the outset it was clear Heathcote District would have its work cut out for it in coping with the leg speed of Central Murray, which burst out of the blocks with its run-and-gun play.
By quarter-time Central Murray was 32 points up as it led 6.4 to 1.2 against a Heathcote District side that struggled to hit targets and stick tackles.
But after an old-fashioned spray from Carter at quarter-time, Heathcote District responded in the second term during what would be its best period of the match.
Heathcote District added 4.5 to 1.3 in the second quarter as its tackling pressure lifted and it was able to close down the Central Murray run by dominating possession.
Heathcote District’s four second-quarter goals were all kicked in the first 11 minutes of the term through Matt Perri, Sam Barnes, Lachlan Furness and skipper Sam Vale.
Central Murray led by 12 points at half-time, 7.7 to 5.7, with the game’s 12 goals to that stage kicked by 12 different players.
But as far as a contest goes, that’s where it ended as Central Murray re-asserted its authority with a strong third quarter that would have been much worse for Heathcote District had it been able to convert.
Central Murray slammed on 6.8 in the third quarter, while Heathcote District could muster just 1.1 – its sole goal kicked by Perri right on the siren.
It took 10 minutes for Heathcote District to generate its first inside 50 of the quarter and it finished with just six for the term.
Down the other end Central Murray kept the Heathcote District defence under plenty of pressure with repeat inside 50 entries.
Central Murray excitement machine Adam Tipungwuti provided the highlight of the game when he took the high-flying mark of the day and kicked his side’s 10th goal of the match at the 17-minute mark.
By three quarter-time it was game over as Central Murray led by 49 points, 13.15 to 6.8.
However, rather than endure another last-term whitewash as had been the case against Bellarine last year when a 13-point three quarter-time deficit became an 80-point shellacking, Heathcote District won the last quarter 5.1 to 4.1 as it fought the game out.
Danny Brewster took several strong marks in the final term and kicked two goals.
Heathcote District spent the entire game playing catch-up footy after Central Murray’s Dean Limbach kicked the opening goal after three minutes.
“We couldn’t get our hands on the ball early, but our second quarter was good and we were able to get ourselves back into the game,” Heathcote District assistant coach Matt Sawyer said.
“But in the third quarter their class stood out through the midfield. Their work-rate around the contest lifted and they spread really well and were able to cut us up.
“To our boys credit, the margin could have really blown out, but they never threw in the towel. We just weren’t good enough.”
Three North Bendigo players were among Heathcote District’s best.
Joel Helman won the medal for Heathcote District’s best player with a hard-working game in which he won plenty of the ball and kicked two goals, while Alex Shipard in defence and ruckman Brett Strange, who barely lost a hit-out, were also standouts.
Ryan Prendergast, classy Jackson McEwen and Brewster (two goals) were others among the best.
Heathcote District didn’t get through the game unscathed, with White Hills’ Matt Lehane suffering a knee concern.
Former Kangaroo Flat player Marty Kelly, who provided plenty of drive, was the best player for Central Murray, which was coached by ex-Eaglehawk player Troy Coates.
Heathcote District drops from No.21 to No.22 in the AFL Victoria rankings and will now play the Southern league next year.
• Match details:
Central Murray 6.4, 7.7, 13.15, 17.16 (118)
Heathcote District 1.2, 5.7, 6.8, 11.9 (75)
GOALS – Central Murray: Douglas Palmer 3, Harrison Keely 2, Corey Kelly 2, Corey Viani 2, Dean Limbach 2, Martin Kelly 2, Adam Tipungwuti 2, Travis Matheson 1, Bryce Delmenico 1. Heathcote District: Matt Perri 2, Joel Helman 2, Danny Brewster 2, Sam Barnes 2, Tom Hill 1, Sam Vale 1, Lachlan Furness 1.
BEST – Central Murray: Marty Kelly, Luke Teasdale, Bradlee Pay, Matthew Wade, Ryan Gillingham, Mitchell Booth. Heathcote District: Joel Helman, Alex Shipard, Ryan Prendergast, Brett Strange, Danny Brewster, Jackson McEwen.