THE re-emergence of Kyneton in the Bendigo Football-Netball League has taken another major step forward with the Tigers upstaging Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park on Saturday.
The Tigers' 11.14 (80) to 7.17 (59) victory was their second win of significance in as many games after beating Golden Square the previous round and also ended a lengthy Canterbury Park hoodoo for the club that extends back to at least 2003.
In what was a crucial game for both teams as part of the logjam between fourth and seventh, who are all separated by just one game, the victory drew the Tigers level on the Hawks with 16 points.
But equally as important is the win further validates the growing belief within the team under coach Paul Chapman, who was immensely proud of his 22 who got the job done on Saturday.
"To beat a quality team on their home deck was a really pleasing result to back up from what we did in our previous game," Chapman said.
"It gives the boys a lot of belief in what we're doing and the buy-in from the group has been exceptional, particularly early in the season when we were playing good patches of footy, but not getting the result.
"It's one thing to keep telling the boys to keep buying in and it will eventually turn, but to now start getting the results and reward for their hard work is really pleasing."
It's one thing to keep telling the boys to keep buying in and it will eventually turn, but to now start getting the results and reward for their hard work is really pleasing- Paul Chapman - Kyneton coach
The game had been up for grabs at three quarter-time with the Tigers holding a five-point advantage, but the Hawks had some momentum after having the better of the last 10 minutes of the third term.
The Tigers had led by 14 points 25 minutes into the third quarter and could have gone 20 points up had forward Ryan Pretty's long-range shot at goal been on target, but it missed.
The Hawks then peppered the goals for the last seven minutes of the quarter, but could only kick 1.4 for their efforts - their goal kicked by the bullocking Clayton Holmes, who took the ball from a ruck contest and from 25m out put it through.
It was a piece of play that gave the Hawks the lift they needed and by the final change they were right back in a game that had been in danger of threatening to slip away as they trailed the Tigers 54-49.
The first goal of the final term was always going to be pivotal and it was the Tigers who not only kicked the first one, but the first two.
Firstly, when Rhys Magin - what a luxury it is for the Tigers to be able to play him forward this season - marked 35m out and kicked truly to extend the visitors lead to 11 points.
And then at the 15-minute mark Tigers' X-factor Cameron Manuel outmarked opponent Oscar Madden in a one-on-one duel 15m out to boot his fifth goal.
At that stage the Tigers led 67-49 and again, Kyneton had the Hawks on the ropes.
However, similar to the third quarter, the Hawks lifted when staring down the barrel and responded with a much-needed goal to one of their best, hard-nut midfielder Noah Wheeler, who converted a 35m set-shot.
The Hawks then spent the next 10 minutes generating repeat inside 50 entries as they constantly attacked, but the Tigers' backline - led by the impressive Frazer Driscoll, Louis Thompson, Harrison Huntly and co - was outstanding in intercepting.
After the Wheeler goal brought Eaglehawk back within 12 points the Hawks had the next three scoring shots, but could muster just three behinds.
The Tigers then delivered the final blow when Angus Nolte forced a turnover in the Hawks' defensive 50, swooped on the ball and goaled on the run from 30m.
And the icing was put on the cake by Magin with an after-the-siren goal to extend the Tigers' final winning margin to 21 points.
As well as the Kyneton backline defending resolutely against a barrage of inside 50s late in the game, also crucial for the Tigers in the final term was their control of the centre square.
The Hawks led the centre clearances 14-5 to three quarter-time, but it was a decisive 4-1 in favour of the Tigers in the final term.
Despite the game being played in fine conditions, inaccuracy plagued both teams from the outset when they combined for 2.10 in the opening term as they went into quarter-time level 1.5 apiece and later ended the game with a wayward 18.31 between them.
The Hawks skipped out to a 12-point lead during the second term after goals to Darcy Richards and Liam Marciano.
However, by half-time the Tigers had fought their way to an eight-point advantage - 4.9 to 3.7 - with three unanswered goals, including two to Manuel, who in a game where just 18 goals were scored, his five were telling.
As well as his two goals in the second term, forward/mid Manuel kicked one in the first term from a stoppage and two in the third quarter.
Not surprisingly, Manuel figured highly among the Tigers' best players, along with defender Thompson, wingman Mitch Comben and the league's No.1 tackler Hamish Yunghanns, who kicked the opening goal of the third term after earning a holding the ball free kick.
The best for the Hawks were headed by their three starting on-ballers in Dillon Williams, Billy Evans and Wheeler (two goals), while the side was a rotation down from late in the first quarter with playmaker Lewin Davis (hamstring) sidelined and likely to be again next week against Castlemaine.
"We won the inside 50s by 10 by our numbers, but we lost our connection to our forwards," Hawks coach Travis Matheson said.
"We kicked 1.4 in the last quarter and missed some gettable chances, but full credit to Kyneton."
Kyneton 1.5 4.9 7.12 11.14 (80)
Eaglehawk 1.5 3.7 6.13 7.17 (59)
GOALS: Kyneton: C.Manuel 5, R.Magin 2, H.Yunghanns 1, B.McGee 1, A.Nolte 1, R.Pretty 1; Eaglehawk: N.Wheeler 2, L.Marciano 2, C.Holmes 1, D.Richards 1, S.Knott 1
BEST: Kyneton: L.Thompson, C.Manuel, M.Comben, H.Yunghanns, F.Driscoll, J.Safstrom; Eaglehawk: D.Williams, B.Evans, C.Laangford, N.Wheeler, C.Holmes, B.Rowles
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