READ MORE - SATURDAY SCOREBOARD - August 3, 2019
READ MORE - Eaglehawk v Golden Square, round 15 | PHOTOS
EAGLEHAWK has given itself some breathing space in the BFNL top three after winning a grinding contest against Golden Square by 16 points on Saturday.
The Canterbury Park tussle didn't reach any great heights, with just 14 goals kicked - all before three quarter-time - while scores had been level at both the first break and half-time.
But it was the Hawks who had the better of the second half in winning 8.11 (59) to 6.7 (43) to extend their winning streak to eight.
The margin could have been plenty more had the Hawks not blown chance after chance in the final quarter.
The Hawks had 8.3 on the board at three quarter-time, but their radar went wayward in the final term when they added 0.8.
Down the other end the Bulldogs scored 0.2 as the two sides combined for 0.10 in the last quarter.
In a game that had been nip and tuck a pair of late set-shot goals in the third quarter to the Hawks' Riley Saunders proved a decisive break for the home side.
The Bulldogs had been leading by one point before Saunders nailed his back-to-back goals at the 25 and 27-minute marks - the second of which would prove the last goal of the match.
Square's Jayden Burke had a shot after the three quarter-time siren that would have brought the margin to back under a kick, but his 40m kick faded to the left.
The Bulldogs' defence was under immense pressure early in the third quarter as the Hawks constantly drove the ball inside 50.
But with the consistent Jon Coe leading the way, the Bulldogs were able to repel and halfway through the third term, despite the lopsided inside 50 count of 11-2 in favour of the Hawks, it was 1.1 apiece before the late pair of Saunders' goals would prove a dagger to the Bulldogs.
Midfield brothers Jesse and Brodie Collins both thrived in the contested battle for the Hawks, while Ryan Gillingham racked up plenty of touches on a wing, Trent Bacon again played a fine game off half-back and showed his trademark class and Sam Harper continued his fine form playing midfield/forward.
Saunders and Ben McPhee, who was also one of the Hawks' standouts, kicked two goals apiece.
"The two sides match-up really well on each other, and then when you have the added incentive of what was on the line with the top three, it was always going to be a really tough game," Hawks coach Travis Matheson said.
"The game just never opened up... there was numbers everywhere the ball was, but I felt we controlled the game well in the last quarter, but didn't take our chances."
Strong-marking forward Burke, matched up by Tim Hill, was the Bulldogs' best, kicking four of their six goals.
Burke was left to shoulder a heavy load in the front half after Travis Baird was forced from the ground in the second term with another hamstring injury to rub salt into the Bulldogs' wounds.
Coe, skipper Jack Geary and Jake Thrum in defence were also among the best for the Bulldogs, who started well with the opening two goals of the game.
Inside 50s - Eaglehawk 49; Golden Square 39.
Centre clearances - Eaglehawk 10; Golden Square 8.
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