READ MORE - SATURDAY SCOREBOARD - June 15, 2019
GOALS were at a premium as North Bendigo outlasted Colbinabbin by 13 points in a Heathcote District league slog to round out the first half of the season.
Just 14 goals were kicked in the game at Colbinabbin - including only seven to three quarter-time - as the Bulldogs won 8.12 (60) to 6.11 (47) on Saturday.
The hard-fought victory by North Bendigo against a fellow premiership contender gives the Bulldogs a one-game buffer at the top of the ladder.
It's the sixth time in the past seven seasons the Bulldogs have reached halfway in either first or second position.
The Bulldogs led by five points at both half-time and three quarter-time, but were finally able to break the game open in the final term.
North Bendigo skipped out to a 30-point lead in the last quarter before the Grasshoppers rallied to trim the final margin back to 13.
"It was a finals-type game today. The conditions were a bit slippery with pressure all over the ground from both teams," North Bendigo coach Matt Dillon said.
"We made a lot of mistakes; Colbo set up very well all game and certainly came to play.
"It was a tough day and there was never much of a margin in the score until we got a bit of a break in the last quarter."
Forward Brady Herdman, after missing last week with hamstring tightness, returned for the Bulldogs and kicked three goals.
The Bulldogs also had Aarryn Craig, who was forced to play deep forward after copping a knock, chip in with two goals.
Utility Joel Helman was North Bendigo's best player.
"He played midfield/forward and for the second time this year when the game has been up for grabs against another top side he knuckled down along with Ballsy (Jarrod Findlay) and won some important clearances," Dillon said.
Jack Donat, also returning from a hamstring, was another of the Bulldogs' best.
"He's a very clean player and was really good off half-back for us. When he found some space he used the ball well," Dillon said.
The defeat ended Colbinabbin's five-game winning streak, with the Grasshoppers one of three teams - along with Lockington-Bamawm United and Mount Pleasant - now with a 6-2 mid-season record.
The Grasshoppers' better players were led by Matt Riordan (two goals) and ruckman Hadleigh Sirett.
LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER v WHITE HILLS
Another efficient performance in front of goal helped propel reigning premier Leitchville-Gunbower back into the top five.
In a crunch game at Gunbower, the Bombers snatched fifth spot from White Hills with a 14.6 (90) to 12.8 (80) victory over the Demons.
The Bombers' 14.6 came on the back of kicking 26.10 against Huntly in their previous game - a combined tally of 40.16 in both matches.
"We've been able to turn things around over the past couple of weeks with our accuracy and making sure we make every kick count," Bombers coach Danny Teskera said.
"We're very happy with how that part of our game is going at the moment."
After missing all of last season with a broken collarbone, young forward Jack Dye again showed his class with a haul of six goals for the Bombers and now has 23 in his past four games.
"Jack is a fantastic footballer and showing just how valuable he is to our side," Teskera said.
"He's kicked some bags of well-constructed goals over the past few weeks and has been really important."
Daniel Coates added four goals for the Bombers, who had trailed by 19 points at quarter-time.
Dye, Coates and the creative Brady Hore, who played forward/midfield, were the Bombers' three best.
Forwards Mitch Dole and Kris Bedford each kicked three goals for the Demons in their 12th-straight loss against the Bombers.
Coming off a 58-possession game against Huntly the previous week, Demons coach Sam Kerridge was again a dominant presence for White Hills to be their best, while Kaiden Skelton also battled hard.
HEATHCOTE v ELMORE
Elmore kicked its biggest score for 45 games as it put a month of heavy losses behind it to belt Heathcote by 94 points.
The Bloods' lead had been just 21 points at half-time, but the second half was all one-way traffic as Elmore added 15 goals to four to run out 21.20 (146) to 7.10 (52) winners at Heathcote.
It was Elmore's highest score since kicking 158 against LBU in round 14 of 2016.
It also came on the back of being held to scores of just 38, 65, 52 and 49 in their previous four games.
"We showed up with the right attitude and were able to dominate the contest from start to finish," Elmore coach Danny Brewster said.
"But we were really able to get our game going after half-time, so it was pleasing to get some reward for effort."
Key forward Romain Grenville returned to his early-season form with a bag of eight goals for the Bloods.
"He has been a bit starved of quality supply in recent weeks, but today, especially in the third quarter, we were able to put the ball to his advantage and hit him up on the lead," Brewster said.
"He's one of those players who if the ball is to his advantage he's going to win it nine times out of 10. The boys up the ground did a lot of hard work to get it to him in the right areas and he finished off well."
While Grenville starred in attack, the best for the Bloods was young wingman Ian Fuller.
"He's been one of our most consistent players all season. His tackling pressure is amazing and he delivered four or five inside 50 to Romain," Brewster said.
The loss leaves Heathcote winless at the halfway mark of the season, with the Saints' cause on Saturday not helped by missing a host of key players.
"Codie Price (overseas), Darcy McLean, Dylan Robinson and Tom Pain were out, so there's our two joint captains and vice-captain among that and it's obviously really difficult with where our depth is at to cover that," Heathcote coach Wayne Primmer said.
"For half a game I thought we did okay, but take nothing away from Elmore, in the second half they over-ran us and moved the ball well."
Ty Primmer playing midfield and forward and veteran Luke Bell (two goals), who spent the bulk of the day forward, were Heathcote's two best.
HUNTLY v MOUNT PLEASANT
A 12-goal haul from star forward Ben Weightman highlighted Mount Pleasant's 88-point win over Huntly.
Having lost seven times in a row to the Hawks by 10-plus goals, the Blues put Huntly to the sword with the 23.6 (144) to 8.8 (56) result.
The Blues' remarkably accurate return of 23.6 featured 6.2 in the first quarter, 5.2 in the second, 5.2 in the third and 7.0 in the last.
Weightman's 12 goals took his season tally to a competition-best 47.
"To win in that manner was very pleasing, particularly the way our younger players stood up," Blues coach Darren Walsh said.
"Our midfield was fantastic and bounced back strongly after being beaten last week (by Colbinabbin). I really put it on them to stand up, which they did.
"Ben Weightman was outstanding and Dan Davie took 15 or so marks up forward, so they were great targets for us."
Weightman's bag of 12 goals was the most by a Blues player since Denis Ryan's 13 against North Bendigo in round 11, 2006.
Weightman and Davie were named the best two for the Blues, who at 6-2 have their best record at the halfway mark of a season since their 2005 premiership year.
It was a tough initiation back into coaching for Huntly's Stacy Fiske after taking the reins earlier in the week from Denis Grinton, who lined up in the Bridgewater reserves on Saturday.
However, Jack Burns was a major shining light for the Hawks, kicking six of their eight goals in his return to the senior side.
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