Tigers claw way back into top-three following win over persistent Magpies

ON-SONG: Kyneton players belt out the theme song following Saturday's 51 point win against Maryborough at the Kyneton Showgrounds. The Tigers sealed the win with a five goal to one final quarter to run out winners 13.20 (98) to 6.11 (47). Picture: KIERAN ILES
ON-SONG: Kyneton players belt out the theme song following Saturday's 51 point win against Maryborough at the Kyneton Showgrounds. The Tigers sealed the win with a five goal to one final quarter to run out winners 13.20 (98) to 6.11 (47). Picture: KIERAN ILES

KYNETON coach Luke Beattie says he is rapt the Tigers’ top-three fate is now back in their own hands.

The Tigers overcame a tenacious Maryborough by 51 points at Kyneton on Saturday to move back into third place on the BFNL ladder.

It’s a position the Tigers will retain ahead of a much-anticipated finals series if they can win at Castlemaine next week and defeat Golden Square at Kyneton in round 18 to round out the home and away season.

Kyneton had slipped to fifth position before Saturday’s game following back-to-back losses to Eaglehawk and Sandhurst.

The Tigers were made to work hard throughout the contest, particularly in the first and third quarters.

They had to wait nearly 10 minutes to post their opening goal of the contest through hard-working midfielder Billy Mahony.

A further two from the boot of Ethan Foreman, who kicked seven for the day, set up a 3.5 to 0.3 advantage at the first break.

While goals were hard to come by in the opening quarter, the Tigers started with a flurry in the second term.

Chris Barry opened the scoring for Kyneton with a goal in the second minute, while two more from Foreman in a two-minute span gave Kyneton a 38 point lead before hailstones started falling early in the second term.

The Magpies finally opened their account 21 minutes into the second term and by half time trailed by 35 points.

A committed Maryborough was able to produce some of its best football of the season to outscore the Tigers four goals to two in the third.

The Magpies were sparked by tall, young forward Will Sultana, who recovered from a heavy collision with a team-mate late in the second quarter, to kick two goals for the quarter and provide his side with a strong target.

A mixed day for Sultana would end prematurely with an ankle injury in the final term.

After the Magpies had dragged themselves within 20 points of the Tigers by three quarter time, it was largely one-way traffic in the last term, with Kyneton adding five goals to one in the last, with Foreman and gun midfielder Rhys Magin kicking two each.

Beattie was quick to credit Maryborough for a spirited performance.

“I said it after the last time we beat them that I’m surprised they haven’t taken it right up to a few more sides,” he said.

“Their ability to compete, which is one of the greatest things you can ask of a group while they are refining their skills and game plan under Benny (Lavars), is one of the things that will help them evolve really quickly.

“I thought they beat us around the stoppages, so considering how well Jordan Mangan won in the ruck, that’s a great platform to build on.”

The Tigers got quality performances from midfielder Fintan Brazil, who got stronger as the game went longer, Foreman, Mahony, Mangan, defender Jayden Exell and Patrick McCarthy in his 50th game.

Beattie identified keeping Maryborough goalless for all but a few minutes in the second half and a strong

“Our main aim was to get back into the winner’s circle after two losses; I really wanted to get some confidence back into the boys,” he said.

“They have been paying good football at times, today was an opportunity to get a bit more consistency back into the game.

“The third quarter was a disappointment, but we’ve changed our structure a bit in the last few weeks and that’s going to happen.

“In saying that in the last quarter we wrestled the ascendancy back, which was clearly the most dominant quarter of the day. I was pleased with the persistence and resilience.”

Maryborough coach Lavars could not fault his young side’s endeavour and work-rate against the now third-placed Tigers.

“We’ve shown signs like that though the year, the trouble is the really good sides like Kyneton, we give them a shake and they respond and we probably just don’t have the bodies in there to go with them when they up that intensity,” he said.

Ben Lavars addresses his players at quarter tie of Saturday's game at Kyneton. Picture: KIERAN ILES

Ben Lavars addresses his players at quarter tie of Saturday's game at Kyneton. Picture: KIERAN ILES

“The  pleasing thing is the boys still have a crack and the intensity is there to try and stay in games.

“When they were on top in that first quarter they got us by nine or 10 in contested possessions, in the third we did the same to them. That shows when we lift our contested ball rate, we can match it with good sides.”