BRIDGEWATER bounced back from a rare two losses in a row to kick the highest score of the Loddon Valley league season so far in a 101-point belting of Marong on Saturday.
The Mean Machine’s stay outside the top five was only brief as they climbed from sixth to fourth with their 25.18 (168) to 9.13 (67) victory at Marong – their first win since April 29.
“It has been a strange patch with the general bye and club bye and a couple of losses in between, which had been driving us at training and we couldn’t wait to get back out there today and try to bounce back,” said Bridgewater coach Marc Lindsay, who kicked two goals.
“For our younger players particularly, to play in a big win is really good for their confidence and the good thing was we had an even contribution. You don’t normally win by a big margin if you’re just leaving it up to a couple of players and that was the emphasis we had.
“We’ve found out in the games we’ve lost that if we don’t get a 22-man performance then we’re going to come up short.”
The Mean Machine kicked 8.13 in the first half to lead by 26 points at the main break in what was a game that included a second-quarter melee.
However, they straightened up after the half-time break as they added 17.5, including 10.1 in the last quarter, in what was their 15th-straight victory over the Panthers.
“We addressed that inaccuracy at half-time and in the second half were able to generate some good shots at goal and that showed in the final result,” Lindsay said.
For the first time this season the Mean Machine had the backline premiership quartet of Darren Clutton, Daniel Nalder, Luke Harrison and Tristin Nalder, who have 24 flags between them, all in the same side.
“We’re starting to get some stability back into our defence, which is going to be really important going forward,” Lindsay said.
Clutton at centre half-back, wingman Kyle Chant (two goals) and key forward Alex Collins (seven goals) were Bridgewater’s best three players.
The 101-point margin was the second triple figure defeat in three games for the 1-7 Panthers, whose best were Lachlan Frankel and Jarrod Fitzpatrick.
• Calivil United has reached the halfway mark of the season undefeated.
The Demons were able to regain the ascendancy in the final term to defeat Pyramid Hill 16.14 (110) to 12.8 (80) at Mitchell Park.
The Demons led by 35 points at half-time, but the Bulldogs surged back into the contest, kicking 6.4 to 2.1 in the third quarter to trail by eight points at the last change.
However, the Demons answered with five goals to two in the final term to remain two games clear in top spot.
“It wasn’t a complete game for us, and that’s credit to the pressure Pyramid Hill put on us,” Calivil United coach Anthony Dennis said.
“But I was really pleased with the way the boys were able to steady in the last quarter to get the win.”
The Demons’ best included on-baller Luke Marchesi, ruckman Chris Down, midfielder Jake Lawry and Nathan Ryan (four goals), who spent the day up forward instead of on his customary wing.
The defeat ended Pyramid Hill’s three-game winning streak and cost the Bulldogs their position in the top five.
The Bulldogs’ cause wasn’t helped by injuries to Riely Thiesz (eye), Michael O’Neill (medial) and Brad Driscoll (ribs).
“We let ourselves down in the last 10 minutes of the second quarter when they were able to get a bit of a run-on that we couldn’t stop,” Pyramid Hill co-coach Gavin James said.
“We put it on the boys at half-time to respond and were able to get ourselves back into the game, but with only one player left on the bench it was always going to be tough to run out the game.”
The best for the Bulldogs featured Michael Dundon in defence, James and on-baller Billy Micevski (two goals), while Joe McGrath (five goals) again presented well in attack with his fifth haul of at least five majors.
With the Bulldogs sitting sixth at 4-4, it’s the first time since 2007 they have been outside the top five at the halfway mark of a season.
• Newbridge moved into second position on the ladder as it spoiled Bears Lagoon-Serpentine’s opening of its new facilities with a 25-point win.
The Maroons improved to 6-2 with their 14.11 (95) to 10.10 (70) victory in the match of the round at Serpentine.
Highlighting the tightness of the competition, the Bears tumbled from second to fifth with their second loss in a row.
“It was a huge result for us today and really pleasing considering we’ve still got some key players out of the side,” Newbridge coach Matt Dillon said.
“But we’ve got guys stepping up and grabbing their opportunities and the team is gelling well together.”
The Maroons led at every change in their third win in a row, in which ruckman Tyler Romeril has been named best in all three games.
“Tyler is playing really good footy and he’s just like a fourth midfielder when the ball hits the deck.. he’s gone to another level this year,” Dillon said.
Caleb Argus (two goals), who provided plenty of midfield pressure, and Edward Coulthard (four goals) were also leading players for the Maroons.
Rhys Deacon kicked five of the Bears’ 10 goals to be one of their best, along with Nick Arthur and Zac Stone, with the trio all continuing what have been consistent seasons.
• Mitiamo kicked 13 goals to three in the second and third quarters to set up its 54-point win over Maiden Gully YCW Eagles at home.
The Superoos prevailed 17.14 (116) to 9.8 (62) to move into the top three.
“We started a bit slow and to YCW’s credit they defended the ground really well. It took a bit of work before we were able to get on top,” said Superoos coach Justin Maddern, who bagged six goals.
For the fourth time in the past five games the Superoos named midfielder Luke Scott their best player.
“He’s just so determined… when it’s his turn to go in and get the ball he gets it, he helps his team-mates out and has just been enormous for us,” Maddern said.
The Eagles, who were more competitive than the 99 and 95 point hidings of the previous two weeks, were best served by Natnael McLaren (two goals).
“We took a couple of steps forward today and it was a much improved effort,” Eagles coach Daniel Francis said.
The Eagles’ Bailey Graham suffered concussion.