READ MORE - SATURDAY SCOREBOARD - June 8, 2019
PYRAMID Hill has now beaten every team in the Loddon Valley league, reaching the halfway mark of the season undefeated after adding Newbridge to its list of scalps on Saturday.
In a clash featuring last year's premier Maroons against the team carrying the mantle as the 2019 favourites given its unblemished record, it was the Bulldogs that further strengthened their credentials with their 11.15 (81) to 9.8 (62) win at Newbridge.
The Bulldogs' 8-0 record, which is coupled with a percentage of 209.5, has been a superb start to the senior coaching career of Adrian McErvale, while the club is also undefeated in the reserves.
"Every week we've been challenged and the playing group is stepping up week in, week out and did so again today," McErvale said.
"We know teams are going to get up for us because of where we're positioned... Newbridge played really good pressure footy today and certainly took it right up to us."
The Bulldogs trailed by one point at three quarter-time, but had the better of the final term, kicking five goals to two to win by 19.
"We had our opportunities throughout the game to put it away, but our goalkicking wasn't great," McErvale said.
"Newbridge just kept on coming at us all day and to the boys' credit they were able to kick the last couple to steady the ship."
Every week we've been challenged and the playing group is stepping up week in, week out and did so again todayAdrian McErvale - Pyramid Hill coach
The best player for the Bulldogs was James Sala, who continued his good patch of form.
"James is getting better each week; he's a very smart and creative player, uses the ball well and gives us plenty of drive through the midfield," McErvale said.
"It's great he's getting games under his belt coming off a knee injury."
Full-back Dylan Morison was also one of the Bulldogs' standouts, while the trio of Braidy Dickens (four), Jack Woodward (three) and Scott Mann (three) combined for 10 goals.
Dickens and Woodward's contributions keeps intact their record of hitting the scoreboard in every game the Bulldogs have played.
While disappointed to have been beaten, Newbridge coach Brad Comer was proud of the endeavour his side showed over the four quarters.
"I said to the boys after the game that given we had a lot out today, we threw absolutely everything at Pyramid, but they were just too good," Comer said.
"There wasn't much more our blokes could have done."
The Maroons' list of omissions included Cam Rinaldi, Jayden Prior, Brian Mustafa, David Romer and captain Jordan Gilboy.
"They are all important players for us, so to push the top side the way we did and have our chances to win the game... they were just a bit good," Comer said.
The best for the Maroons was defender Chris McLean, whose game drew high praise from Comer.
"Chris was super off the half-back flank. Pyramid Hill peppered the goals early and did a lot of attacking, but I think he would have taken five or six marks in the first quarter to steady us," Comer said.
"He had a really good solid four-quarter performance."
Newbridge reaches the halfway mark of the season in sixth position with a 3-5 record.
After Calivil United missed the finals last year as the reigning premiers, could the Maroons also be headed for the same fate?
As for Pyramid Hill - a club that hasn't won a flag since 1950 - the last five teams to have reached the halfway mark of the season undefeated - Calivil United (2017) and Bridgewater (2016, 2014, 2011 and 2010) - have all gone on to win the LVFNL premiership.
MAIDEN GULLY YCW v BL-SERPENTINE
Bears Lagoon-Serpentine replaced Maiden Gully YCW in third position courtesy of its 38-point victory.
The Bears made more of their scoring opportunities than the inaccurate Eagles in winning 15.10 (100) to 8.14 (62) at Maiden Gully.
"We're very happy with today... the boys played a really solid four quarters of footy," Bears coach Greg Gadsden said.
It was a third win in a row for the Bears, who reach the halfway mark of the season at 5-3.
"We knew we had to get some momentum and wins over the past three weeks in crucial games against teams vieing for spots in the five shows we're going along alright," Gadsden said.
"We might be still chasing the other two at the top of the table (Pyramid Hill and Mitiamo) a bit, but we're building and improving as the year goes on."
The Bears trailed the Eagles by 11 points at quarter-time, but by half-time were 22 points in front after booting 6.1 to 0.4 during the second term.
"The way the boys linked up, ran in numbers and their pressure around the contest was really pleasing," Gadsden said.
"From stoppages we looked to give off to the running player all day, which opened the game up for us and our pressure to keep the ball in the forward line was really good."
The Bears had four multiple goalkickers - Andrew Gladman (three), James Rippingale (three), Harry Gadsden (two) and Charlie Gadsden (two).
Midfield recruit Matthew Gibbs was the best for the Bears as he continued his strong season.
"He was in and around the footy all day... down back, though the midfield and up forward; he chased and harassed and gave first use to our runners around the ground," Gadsden said.
Also playing well for the Bears was Tom Ferguson off half-back and Nathan Twigg in the ruck.
The better players for the Eagles, who are now 0-4 against their fellow teams in the top five, were centre half-back Alex Pearson, young wingman/ half-back Josh Worsley in his second senior game and winger Nick Waterson.
"It was a really disappointing result given we were playing to keep hold of third spot... it was one of those days where you question how much your players want to be out there," Eagles coach Wayne Mitrovic said.
"Serp just looked like they wanted it more; we weren't able to match their effort in the contest."
Among the goalkickers for the Eagles was Jaidyn Berry, who kicked one in his senior debut.
MITIAMO v MARONG
Marong was unable to contain the powerful Mitiamo forward line as the Superoos bolted to their sixth win in a row.
The Superoos kicked their highest score of the season in their 21.18 (144) to 5.6 (36) victory at Mitiamo.
Mitiamo was quick to kill off the contest - the Superoos were already 75 points up at half-time as they led 13.7 to 1.4.
"Miti showed today just how good a side they are; we were going to need to be at our best to be competitive and, unfortunately, we weren't," Marong co-coach Taylor Beard said.
"The first half really hurt us, but it was good to see the boys dug in a bit in the second half."
The Superoos' 21 goals were kicked by six players - Justin Maddern (seven), Ryan Wellington (four), Tim Brooks (three), Dylan Clohesy (three), co-coach Tyrone Downie (two) and veteran Lucas Matthews (two).
"They have got a really good forward line and work well together," Beard said.
"But our pressure wasn't up to scratch through the middle of the ground in the first half; we allowed their mids to be able to run and carry and deliver the ball to their forwards really well."
Matt Grant, the in-form Ben Bacon and Wellington led the best players for the Superoos, whose only blemish in the first half of the season has been a 55-point loss to Pyramid Hill in round two.
Wellington's four goals moved him to the top of the league goalkicking alongside Bridgewater's Alex Powell with 24.
The only multiple goalkicker for the Panthers was Harry Graham (two goals) after he was moved from defence to attack.
Midfielder Nathan Devanny was the best for the Panthers.
"He battled really hard all day. He gave us a lot of run in the second half when we started to play the game on our terms a little bit at times," said Beard, who was also among the Panthers' better players.
The Panthers lost Jeremy Salinger to a hamstring injury.
CALIVIL UNITED v INGLEWOOD
The clash of the bottom two teams was all one-way traffic as Calivil United inflicted another heavy loss on Inglewood at Raywood.
The Demons won their second game of the season by 103 points, 21.15 (141) to 4.14 (38).
"We've been building over the past month, so it's great to get a win for team morale after a few close defeats," Calivil United coach Andrew Freemantle said.
"I think we're starting to play some reasonable footy."
Inglewood's hopes of being able to break its 2019 duck against the Demons were quickly snuffed out as Calivil United raced to a 52-point lead at half-time.
The Blues didn't do themselves any favours with their inaccuracy in which they kicked 2.7 in both the first and second half.
Jake Hall kicked four goals for the Demons, while ruckman William Jeffs, Levi Moss and Michael Cooke slotted three each.
However, key forward Cooke has a knee injury concern out of the game.
Jeffs was named best for the Demons.
"He's a mobile ruckman and gives us a good target when he goes forward, which he did again today with his three goals," Freemantle said.
Others in the best for the Demons included Nathan Dyson, Brenton Fitzgerald and Jonas Somerville, who all chipped in with two goals.
Lachlan Sidebottom and mid-season recruit Alex Mitchell led the best players for the Blues, who for the third time in their past four games were beaten by 100-plus points.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.