GISBORNE captain Jarrad Lynch says the Bulldogs will derive enormous belief from their breakthrough victory over Golden Square last weekend.
The Bulldogs have been rebuilding since 2015 and through that time their only wins in the BFNL had come against South Bendigo, Kangaroo Flat, Maryborough and Castlemaine.
However, last Saturday came the Bulldogs’ most significant step forward since they last played finals in 2014 when they defeated Golden Square by 29 points at Gardiner Reserve to finally claim a scalp of note.
“The majority of our group has been playing together for three years now… to beat just the sides like Kangaroo Flat, Maryborough and Castlemaine, it has been frustrating to not beat anyone above us, so to do so last Saturday was fantastic,” Lynch said on Wednesday.
“We’ve pushed a lot of those sides above us this year and been close, but hadn’t been able to get any reward. To finally get it last week is good for those younger players who haven’t tasted that sort of win before.
“Hopefully, it’s a big turning point for us.”
The Bulldogs strung together a solid four-quarter performance in their 15.5 (95) to 9.12 (66) victory.
Gisborne showed earlier in the season it had been building towards a win of substance.
In round three the Bulldogs, following a ferocious first half, were good enough to lead Eaglehawk by 27 points in the third quarter, only to fade badly and lose by 47 at Canterbury Park.
A fortnight later they had been 20 points up on Sandhurst in the third term, but again dropped away to go down by 34 at the QEO.
But the Bulldogs put the lessons learned from those fadeouts into place against Golden Square last Saturday.
“We were able to keep our intensity up for the whole game,” Lynch said.
“Our tackle pressure was great, they were sticking and we were able to keep the forward line open and feed the ball in there consistently, which kept giving us chances.
“And with our scoreline (15.5), we were able to captialise on our opportunities and the confidence of the group stays up when you’re kicking goals that allows you to stay on top of the opposition.
“We got challenged in the third quarter, but the good thing is we were able to stand up to it… it was a really good four-quarter performance.”
Gisborne spread its goals among 11 players in the victory, which included Lynch, Oliver Clough, Ross Celano and Jaidyn Owen kicking two apiece.
Having been 1-4 after five rounds, the Bulldogs are now 4-4 on the back of three victories in a row for the first time since 2015.
The Bulldogs are now only percentage behind fifth-placed Sandhurst ahead of another big game this Saturday against South Bendigo at the QEO.
The Bloods are half-a-game behind the Bulldogs, who haven’t won a game at the QEO since defeating Golden Square by four points in the 2014 first semi-final – a gripping game in which Lynch was one of Gisborne’s best.
“It’s massive to play on the QEO… these are where the finals are played, so it’s a deck you want to win on,” Lynch said.
“It’s a great challenge at the right time of the year for us having now got a bit of momentum.
“It’s a bit like a mini-final for us in terms of how the ladder is at the moment.”
Eaglehawk – 7-1
Strathfieldsaye – 7-1
Kyneton – 6-1-1
Golden Square – 5-3
Sandhurst – 4-4
Gisborne – 4-4
South Bendigo – 3-4-1
Kangaroo Flat – 2-6
Castlemaine – 1-7
Maryborough – 0-8
Saturday’s games – Maryborough v Eaglehawk, Kangaroo Flat v Strathfieldsaye, Castlemaine v Sandhurst, Golden Square v Kyneton, South Bendigo v Gisborne.