RELATED – EAGLEHAWK V SANDHURST | PHOTOS
EAGLEHAWK kicked the BFNL’s first winning score of less than 50 for eight seasons in a victory against Sandhurst on Saturday that has locked the double chance up for the Hawks.
In a grinding, willing contest between two flag contenders in cold and blustery conditions at Canterbury Park, where Eaglehawk has now won 17 in a row, just 10 goals were kicked – none by Sandhurst after the six-minute mark of the second term.
The Hawks – who laid a staggering 115 tackles – kicked the only four goals of the second half as they turned an 11-point deficit at the main break into a 6.12 (48) to 4.7 (31) victory that dropped the Dragons back out of the top three.
Not since Golden Square beat – ironically – Sandhurst 6.11 (47) to 4.7 (31) with an almost identical scoreline in round 13 of 2010 has a BFNL team been victorious with a tally of less than 50.
Sandhurst’s scoring was near-on non-existent for the best part of three quarters.
Six minutes into the second term the Dragons – with the momentum of five wins in a row behind them – led by 14 points, 4.3 to 2.1.
However, over the remainder of the game – another 92 minutes – all the Dragons could muster was a paltry four behinds.
It was a game in which the umpires – both central and boundary – well and truly earned their money with the amount of throw-ups and throw-ins, particularly on the scoreboard side of the ground.
Fluent passages of play were the exception rather than the norm and with both teams bringing plenty of pressure to the contest, the pattern of play from the first siren to the last revolved around repeat stoppages.
That was evident from the outset when the first quarter lasted for 33 minutes, yet just three goals had been kicked.
The tone was set early that scoring would be at a premium given it took until a Sandhurst rushed behind 15 minutes into the first term for the scoreboard to tick over.
And it wasn’t until the 25-minute mark after he was the recipient of a 100m penalty that took him from in front of the scoreboard to the goalsquare that the Dragons’ Nick Stagg kicked the game’s opening goal.
The signs were positive for the Dragons when Jed Zimmer goaled from 40m early in the second quarter to put his side 14 points up, while the Hawks were down a rotation with Cam McGlashan having suffered concussion after landing heavily following a strong contested mark early in the game.
However, Zimmer’s goal would be the Dragons’ last of the game.
But scoring wasn’t coming easy for the Hawks, who had just 2.4 on the board at half-time, with their two goals having been kicked by Jack Fallon late in the first quarter and Ben McPhee, one of their best, early in the second.
Yet the second half was controlled by the Hawks as they gained the momentum during the third term, with their more cleaner ball-use helping them to score 3.3 to 0.2, with two of Eaglehawk’s goals kicked by athletic ruckman Jonty Neaves – a crucial contribution in such a low-scoring affair.
The Dragons’ cause wasn’t helped late in the quarter when Pascale Craig was yellow-carded – the second time in as many seasons he has gone into the umpire’s book at Canterbury Park – forcing Sandhurst to play the bulk of the last term with only 17 on the field.
The only goal of the final term was kicked by Hawks’ stand-in captain Brodie Collins, who nailed a tough 40m shot from the boundary to go with the goal he also kicked early in the third term, joining Neaves as the game’s only multiple goalkickers.
“It was a real physical contest… both sides went in hard around the stoppages and it was just a really solid hit-out,” said Hawks coach Josh Bowe, who played an outstanding leader’s game in the clinches and was particularly prominent in the second half as his side got on top.
“I thought we were able to lift our contested footy numbers in the second half and that was really important.
“We’re obviously rapt we’ve been able to set ourselves up now with the double chance… you need to be in the top three to have a real crack at it, but in saying that it’s fairly even.”
Dragons coach Andrew Collins said he couldn’t question the effort of his side, but that the Hawks had handled the ball better in the greasy conditions in the second half.
Eaglehawk captain Tim Hill (back) was a late withdrawal, while consistent defender Jake Pallpratt was Sandhurst’s best player.
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