GISBORNE showed for a half the first time it met Eaglehawk this year it had the capabilities of throwing the challenge down to the Hawks.
An early-season BFNL upset loomed when the Bulldogs – on the back of a ferocious attack at the contest – led the Hawks by 26 points at half-time in round three at Canterbury Park.
Yet the Bulldogs were unable to sustain their intensity and in what was a 73-point swing, the Hawks piled on 13 goals to two after half-time to win by 47.
The two teams meet again for their return battle at Gardiner Reserve on Saturday.
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“That last game against Eaglehawk we had four or five inclusions and hadn’t played a lot together as a unit that day,” Gisborne coach Clinton Young said on Friday.
“We started the game well in the first half, but couldn’t do it for four quarters, so this time around on our home ground we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing them again.
“We came up short against Strathfieldsaye in our last game before the bye, so, hopefully, we’ve learned a bit from not only our last time against Eaglehawk, but also that Strath game.”
The Bulldogs lost their position in the top five and had a five-game winning streak broken last round with a 75-point hiding from the red-hot Storm.
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“I thought the boys competed really well against Strath with their effort, and even at 40 points down at half-time I didn’t think that was a true reflection, but that’s just the reality of footy… you’ve got to do a lot of things right to compete, especially against the best sides,” Young said.
“From the week and a bit since, I’m confident the boys can go out and have a good game on Saturday.”
Young is again enduring another frustrating season with injury, this time a calf that has kept him out of the Bulldogs’ past two games.
As well as a hamstring injury in the pre-season, Young – a 2008 Hawthorn premiership player – has been restricted to just four games this year on the back of only playing 11 in his first season at the club in 2017.
“Hopefully, I can get my body right and finish out the rest of the year from here. I feel as a team we’re improving and it would be good to be out there with the boys trying to string a few more wins together,” Young said.
While it was a general bye in the BFNL last weekend, there was no rest for Gisborne’s Jack Scanlon, with the young key forward part of the Victoria Country under-19 team that was beaten by the Victorian Amateurs in a representative game in Ballarat.
“He was recognised as the Rising Star of the competition last year and to be selected in the Vic Country under-19 team was a great experience for him,” Young said.
“To experience a higher level of football at that age is invaluable for Jack, who is still developing and has the right mentality to really improve his football and be a really good player down the track.”
Gisborne has lost its past seven games against Eaglehawk.
Saturday’s game at Gardiner Reserve starts at 2.20pm.