THE Heathcote District league home and away season ended with another round of blowouts in which all four games were decided by at least 100 points.
Coming off the most one-sided round since 1997 the previous week, Saturday’s four games featured margins of 154, 145, 107 and 100 points.
With another four triple-figure margins on Saturday, it takes the tally of matches decided by at least 100 points to 25 out of the 72 home and away games.
North Bendigo rounded out its home and away season with its fifth win by at least 150 points after thrashing Elmore by 154 – 28.14 (182) to 4.4 (28).
The Bulldogs’ demolition included a remarkably accurate second quarter when they couldn’t miss as they booted 11.0.
“We controlled the game from the start, although we didn’t hit the scoreboard as much as we would have liked in the first quarter from the amount of inside 50s we had,” North Bendigo coach Rob Bennett said.
“But in the second quarter it was much better and for the rest of the game.”
Bulldogs’ forwards Sam Barnes (eight) and Brady Herdman (six) combined for 14 goals, before both were rested in the final term.
Alex Shipard, who played on the Bloods’ James Harney, Tyson Findlay (two goals) and Tom Metherell led the best for the Bulldogs, who got through the game unscathed.
The win secured North Bendigo a top-of-the-ladder finish with a 15-1 record and monster percentage of 313.5.
From 1975 onwards it’s the highest season-ending Heathcote District league percentage, surpassing Colbinabbin’s 309.9 in 1999.
“We spoke after the game about being pleased with what we’ve been able to achieve through the home and away season, but it all resets again over the coming weeks,” Bennett said.
Nick Page kicked two of the four goals for the Bloods, who had Nicholas Kellow, Trent Lang and Nathan Brewster battle hard in what was the side’s seventh loss by at least 100 points.
Elmore’s team included Kally McDougall and Bryce Niven who made their senior debuts.
The Bloods end the season in eighth position with a 3-12-1 record, with coach Danny Brewster saying the club will take plenty of positives out of the year.
“We knew where we were at the start of the year in that it was going to be a development season,” Brewster said.
“We’ve had 30-odd players who hadn’t played senior footy before, so it has been good to get 10 or more games into a lot of them.
“If we hold everyone together and pick up another few in the areas we need to improve then it should hold us in good stead for next year.”
Elmore used 47 players throughout the home and away season – the most of any club and well above the league average of 37.3.
Brewster will continue as Elmore coach for a second season in 2018.
• White Hills ended its five-game losing streak to ensure it hits the finals on the back of a victory after beating Mount Pleasant by 100 points at Toolleen.
The Demons won 24.11 (155) to 8.7 (55) against an opponent they have been on the end of plenty of hidings off over the years.
“We tried a few different things today and they paid off for us, but our big focus was just getting back to trying to enjoy our footy again,” White Hills coach Brent Millar said.
Among the Demons’ structure changes that paid off were Sean Christopher (six goals) moving back the forward line, Lachlan Sidebottom (five goals) starting forward and renowned defender Jason Curtain also playing in attack in his return to the side.
“We were able to stretch them up forward, and we were probably a bit more cleaner with our clearances from the midfield, which set us up,” Millar said.
The Demons have struggled to get out of the blocks in first terms this season – they had only led at quarter-time in three of their first 15 games.
But there were no such problems on Saturday as they bolted to a 37-point advantage at quarter-time, 7.2 to 1.1, in what was their highest-scoring opening term since round four, 2015.
As well as Christopher’s six goals and Sidebottom’s five, the Demons also had Lachlan Furness and Hayden Wright kick four each.
Ryley Dickens in a midfield/forward role, Jake Dickens, who has had a super season off half-back, and Sidebottom were the best for the Demons, who will now turn their attention to next Sunday’s elimination final against Huntly.
The loss brought the curtain down on a rare wooden-spoon season for the Blues, who ended the year with a 2-13-1 record, with eight of their losses by more than 100 points.
Ryan Herring and outgoing coach Matt Johnson kicked three goals each for the Blues, whose best were Nicholas Butler and Mitchell Keuken, who made a big impression in the last three games.
• For the fifth time in a row Leitchville-Gunbower defeated Lockington-Bamawm United by more than 100 points.
This time the margin was 145 points – 25.17 (167) to 3.4 (22) – as the Bombers maintained an unblemished record at Gunbower for the third season in a row.
The red-hot Bombers were already 73 points up at half-time as they led 12.9 to 1.2 on the way to their 10th victory in a row.
Matt Perri bagged seven goals to end the home and away season as the competition’s leading goalkicker with 108, finishing 44 clear of his nearest rival in North Bendigo’s Barnes (64).
Perri was one of 12 goalkickers for the Bombers, who also had Tim Lincoln (four), Daniel Coates (three), Adam Decicco (two) and skipper Daniel Couwenberg (two) contribute multiples.
Coates, Lincoln and Couwenberg all featured among the best, while the two standouts were Mitch Burns, who impressed again, and Brad Ladson.
After finishing second with a 15-1 record, and another huge percentage of 292.1, the Bombers will now take on Colbinabbin in next Saturday’s qualifying final at Huntly.
The Cats – who didn’t score in the first quarter – were best served by two of their most consistent players this season in Liam Main and captain Marcus Angove.
The Cats finish the season in sixth position with a 4-12 record in what was a step forward from last year’s one win and the wooden spoon.
“We’ve managed to get some games into the kids and they’ve been able to gain some valuable experience,” said Peter Gibbs, who after two years as Cats’ coach is finishing.
“We’ve improved in a number of aspects, but we still don’t match a lot of the sides for talent and depth, which makes it tough.”
• Huntly ended its home and away season with a third-straight win by triple figures.
The Hawks belted Heathcote by 107, 24.16 (160) to 7.11 (53), on what was a big weekend for the Saints, who celebrated 50 years since their club was formed.
Co-coach Ryan Semmel (five), Michael Ryan (four), Jaydon Cowling (three) and Jacob Greenwood (three) were among a spread of 10 goalkickers for the fourth time in the Hawks’ past six games, while the side’s best was key defender Tim Davison.
Luke Podhajski kicked three of the seven goals for the Saints, who had Louis Piccolo named best.
Having been a popular tip pre-season as a likely wooden-spoon side that would struggle to win a game, the Saints finished with four – three more than last year – and in seventh position.
“To get four wins isn’t a bad result, but it’s probably a bit disappointing that having three at the halfway mark we could only win one more after that,” said Heathcote coach Luke Bell, who has been reappointed.
“But we had probably 10 guys playing their first season of senior footy, so that drop off in intensity is to be expected with those players getting sore and tired.”