A STUNNING third-quarter onslaught against Gisborne has launched Sandhurst into the BFNL top-five for the first time this season.
The Dragons fired off an ominous salvo to kickstart the second half of the season in becoming the first team this year to defeat Gisborne with a brilliant 37-point victory at the QEO.
The Dragons produced four quarters of sustained effort and intensity to win 15.8 (98) to 9.7 (61) in a result that squares their season ledger at 5-5 and on an even keel for the first time this year following their 0-3 start.
It was a superb team performance all over the ground from the Dragons as they claimed a second scalp of major significance this year having also beaten the previously undefeated Golden Square back in round five.
"Internally we think we're as good as anyone, but we just haven't been able to piece it totally together through a few of our losses, which is totally our fault," Sandhurst coach Ashley Connick said.
"We're not hailing this victory as an against the odds surprise win and having a huge celebration of it; we think it's the level that we can play at and we're absolutely rapt that we were able to put it together today.
"We've got a fair bit of belief in ourselves and think that if we can play our brand of footy consistently we can win these sort of games and do some damage later in the year.
"We feel like we've got some momentum now and have got to continue that on."
The defining period of the game was a run of eight unanswered goals by the Dragons across the third and fourth quarters - those eight goals in a row coming against a Gisborne side that before Saturday had only conceded eight goals for an entire game just three times in its first nine matches.
After an enthralling first half that ended with Gisborne ahead by one point at the main break, 6.5 to 6.4, the Bulldogs then kicked the first goal of the third term when Harry Thomas marked a pass from ruckman Braidon Blake and converted the 40m set-shot at the Barnard Street end.
Thomas' goal gave the Bulldogs a seven-point lead before in a matter of minutes the game completely turned in favour of the Dragons.
Having been beaten 8-5 in centre clearances in the first half, the Dragons were able to grab the ascendancy in the middle and drive the ball forward with some brilliant running transition play.
In an eight-minute burst the Dragons piled on five-consecutive goals to quickly erase their deficit and then build a sizeable margin of their own.
The Dragons' gamebreaking run started when Joel Wharton - as he has done so often in his career - seized on an opportunity and snapped a goal in what became a pivotal 12-point play.
Before the game had been re-started in the centre square a free-kick was paid against Gisborne's Sam Graham for an infringement on Dragons' forward Jake Wilkinson.
From 25m out Wilkinson steered the set-shot home and all of a sudden the Dragons had gone from six points down to six points up with just two kicks.
Soon after veteran Dragons' key forward Matt Thornton, who was opposed by gun Gisborne defender Jack Reaper, twice marked kicks from the lively Lachlan Zimmer and goaled.
And when Brodie Montague showed his evasive skill and goaled on the run at the 13-minute mark the Dragons had booted five in a row and were out to a 24-point lead, 11.5 to 7.5.
At that stage all the momentum was with the surging Dragons before the game came to a five-minute standstill after Gisborne defender Jaidyn Owen suffered what appeared to be a whiplash style injury trying to mark the ball low to the ground.
Owen, who had been assigned the key match-up on star young Sandhurst forward Cobi Maxted, was stretchered off and taken to Bendigo Hospital.
"He has had CT scans on his neck up at the Bendigo Hospital; he was conscious and in good spirits, but we're awaiting the outcome of the CT scan," Gisborne coach Rob Waters said after the game.
Following the five-minute pause in play the Dragons, who ran the Bulldogs ragged, added one more third-quarter goal when Joel Wharton unloaded a long-range set-shot for his third.
Leading by 30 points at three quarter-time, 12.7 to 7.7, the Dragons then kicked the first two goals of the final term through Jeremy Rodi and Zimmer to make it eight in a row as a scoreboard that had one stage read 47-40 in favour of Gisborne was now 91-49 Sandhurst's way.
The run of Sandhurst goals was finally ended when Gisborne's Sam Wilson cleverly threaded through a shot from the pocket.
Three defenders featured high in the Dragons' best players - Liam Ireland, who played a strong intercept game, the athletic Cooper Smith and Isaac Ruff, who was opposed to Gisborne star Pat McKenna (two goals).
Joel Wharton and Thornton each kicked three goals and Zimmer slotted two to be among a spread of 10 Sandhurst players who hit the scoreboard.
Gisborne's best player was defender Liam Spear, who provided the Bulldogs with plenty of attack off half-back before moving on to Maxted after Owen was injured.
"Sandhurst played very well and everything they did came off, which was the opposite to us," Waters said.
"In the end we were probably lucky to get as close we did; after half-time we couldn't get our hands on the footy, couldn't slow the game down, got annihilated at the stoppages and our backs were under enormous pressure."
Strathfieldsaye Seniors 5.5 8.9 10.16 11.17 (83)
Eaglehawk Seniors 1.3 3.4 5.4 8.9 (57)
GOALS: Strathfieldsaye Seniors: K.Geary 3, J.Hall 2, T.Hosking 1, B.Alexander 1, J.Moorhead 1, L.Gill 1, B.Hore 1, F.Payne 1; Eaglehawk Seniors: N.Wheeler 3, D.Richards 2, S.Knott 1, S.Williams 1, S.Dean 1
BEST: Strathfieldsaye Seniors: J.Moorhead, C.McCarty, M.Hallinan, D.Clohesy, C.Sheahan, T.Hosking; Eaglehawk Seniors: N.Wheeler, B.Thompson, D.Williams, K.Lloyd, J.Mullen, B.Evans
Golden Square Seniors 5.6 7.10 14.12 21.14 (140)
South Bendigo Seniors 1.3 2.7 3.8 6.11 (47)
GOALS: Golden Square Seniors: J.Thrum 5, J.Burke 4, B.Vaz 2, H.Morcom 2, R.Monti 2, J.Brett 2, R.Hartley 1, J.Merrin 1, J.Stewart 1, J.Hickman 1; South Bendigo Seniors: O.White 2, J.Sheahan 1, K.Antonowicz 1, W.Keck 1, D.Johnstone 1
BEST: Golden Square Seniors: J.Thrum, J.Hickman, T.Reeves, H.Morcom, R.Monti, J.Burke; South Bendigo Seniors: I.Miller, Z.Hare, O.White, A.van Heumen, S.Langley, A.Smith
Kangaroo Flat Seniors 3.3 4.6 9.8 12.10 (82)
Maryborough Seniors 1.1 4.4 5.4 10.6 (66)
GOALS: Kangaroo Flat Seniors: L.Wilson 5, S.Barnes 2, E.Roberts 2, M.Collins 1, H.Lockhart 1, M.Rovers 1; Maryborough Seniors: J.Postle 3, B.Neill 2, J.Howell 2, C.Freeman 1, L.Hull 1, C.Perry 1
BEST: Kangaroo Flat Seniors: M.Trewhella, C.Smith, M.Collins, J.Hywood, L.Collins, E.Roberts; Maryborough Seniors: K.Lanfranchi, C.Perry, L.Latch, T.Gardam, A.Hare, L.Hull
Sandhurst Seniors 3.3 6.4 12.7 15.8 (98)
Gisborne Seniors 4.2 6.5 7.7 9.7 (61)
GOALS: Sandhurst Seniors: J.Wharton 3, M.Thornton 3, L.Zimmer 2, N.Walsh 1, L.Coghlan 1, B.Holmes 1, J.Rodi 1, B.Montague 1, J.Wilkinson 1, H.Hosking 1; Gisborne Seniors: H.Thomas 2, P.McKenna 2, S.Wilson 1, S.Graham 1, B.Eales 1, B.Blake 1
BEST: Sandhurst Seniors: B.Montague, L.Ireland, C.Smith, I.Ruff, J.Rodi, Z.Pallpratt; Gisborne Seniors: L.Spear, J.Reaper, J.Normington, H.Thomas, B.Blake
Kyneton Seniors 4.5 9.10 18.14 25.20 (170)
Castlemaine Seniors 0.0 2.2 3.5 6.8 (44)
GOALS: Kyneton Seniors: R.Magin 9, G.Dickson 6, B.McGee 2, H.Sheahan 2, M.Crozier 2, S.Georgiou 1, H.Yunghanns 1, L.Phillips 1, C.Manuel 1; Castlemaine Seniors: B.Keogh 3, T.Horne 1, L.Wilkinson 1
BEST: Kyneton Seniors: J.Gaff, R.Magin, L.Phillips, G.Dickson, H.Huntley, L.Thompson; Castlemaine Seniors: T.Horne, D.Slingo, B.Josey, W.Moran, S.Nettleton, T.Hickey"
Kangaroo Flat Reserves 7.1 13.4 16.5 20.7 (127)
Maryborough Reserves 2.0 2.0 4.3 4.3 (27)
GOALS: Kangaroo Flat Reserves: B.Fry 4, I.Lowndes 4, D.Dempster 2, Z.Sambrooks 2, T.Roberts 2, A.Kent 2, B.Savy 1, L.Murphy 1, L.Mott 1, C.McMillan 1; Maryborough Reserves: B.Fraser 2, M.Berry 1, J.Cooley 1
BEST: Kangaroo Flat Reserves: D.Symons, B.Fry, J.Short, D.Dempster, I.Lowndes, L.Murphy; Maryborough Reserves: N.Swan, L.Bucknall, M.Berry, J.Shay, I.Dos Reis, B.Fraser
Strathfieldsaye Reserves 1.3 4.10 5.11 6.15 (51)
Eaglehawk Reserves 2.0 2.1 5.4 5.6 (36)
GOALS: Strathfieldsaye Reserves: J.Formosa 1, J.Wilson 1, Z.Charles 1, J.Reinheimer 1, D.Mulquiny 1; Eaglehawk Reserves: K.Gibson 3, B.Ilsley 1, M.Storey 1
BEST: Strathfieldsaye Reserves: L.Monti, M.Parsons, D.Mulquiny, M.Rowley, J.Reinheimer; Eaglehawk Reserves: E.Hanley, M.Storey, B.Ilsley, A.Hanley, H.Bourke, B.Jackson
Gisborne Reserves 2.1 5.3 5.5 8.9 (57)
Sandhurst Reserves 2.2 3.3 7.5 7.7 (49)
GOALS: Gisborne Reserves: ; Sandhurst Reserves:
BEST: Gisborne Reserves: J.Vernon, E.Minns, L.Bouckley, J.Fraser, A.Brancatisano, E.Bretherton; Sandhurst Reserves: B.Robertson, M.Wilkinson, J.Quirk, Z.Sims, C.Connick, M.Leyden
Golden Square Reserves 6.6 10.6 17.14 19.19 (133)
South Bendigo Reserves 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 (12)
GOALS: Golden Square Reserves: B.Eaton 4, J.Salathiel 3, B.James 2, M.Evans 2, A.Jenkyn 2, J.Langley 1, Z.Morrison 1, B.Passalaqua 1, P.Symons 1, D.Lowry 1, C.Draper 1; South Bendigo Reserves: D.Osborne 1, L.Walker 1
BEST: Golden Square Reserves: B.James, D.Lowry, A.Jenkyn, N.Ross, J.Langley, J.Salathiel; South Bendigo Reserves: R.Mangan, J.Maher, D.McMahon, M.Livingston, A.Leahy, B.Millar
Kyneton Reserves 2.2 8.4 17.5 21.7 (133)
Castlemaine Reserves 0.0 2.0 3.0 6.0 (36)
GOALS: Kyneton Reserves: R.Dubens 6, J.Plowman 6, H.Moore 2, J.Pilbeam 2, L.Read 1, A.Neylon 1, M.McLeish 1, T.Agnew 1, Z.Ryan 1; Castlemaine Reserves:
BEST: Kyneton Reserves: R.Dubens, J.Plowman, M.Hanna, L.Read, D.Yarwood, T.Agnew; Castlemaine Reserves: J.Collie, K.Fleeton, O.Daldy, W.Staples, D.Park"
Strathfieldsaye Under 18's 2.0 5.4 8.7 11.9 (75)
Eaglehawk Under 18's 0.1 0.2 1.2 3.4 (22)
GOALS: Strathfieldsaye Under 18's: R.Fox 5, R.Power 2, H.Poke 2, Z.Pearce 1, S.Siu 1; Eaglehawk Under 18's: N.Gorrie 2, M.Ronchieri 1
BEST: Strathfieldsaye Under 18's: S.Siu, R.Power, Z.Grieve, C.James, C.Tangey, B.Elkington; Eaglehawk Under 18's: B.Cauchi, Z.Myers, M.Ronchieri, N.Gorrie, T.Parkes, J.Holland
Sandhurst Under 18's 1.1 5.3 7.6 9.7 (61)
Gisborne Under 18's 1.2 1.3 3.4 5.6 (36)
GOALS: Sandhurst Under 18's: M.Hartland 3; Gisborne Under 18's:
BEST: Sandhurst Under 18's: A.Patterson, T.Travaglia, S.Morris, W.Robertson, L.Banfield, R.Domaille; Gisborne Under 18's: D.Young, J.Fox, O.Schnoor, S.Simpson, K.Minns, D.Lockens
Kyneton Under 18's 1.3 3.5 5.5 8.6 (54)
Castlemaine Under 18's 1.4 1.5 2.10 3.11 (29)
GOALS: Kyneton Under 18's: S.Pyers 2, H.Murray 1, S.Smallman 1, J.Chambers 1, H.Fanning 1, C.Young 1, L.Thompson 1; Castlemaine Under 18's: D.Keogh-Frankling 1, M.Schembri 1, K.Martin 1
BEST: Kyneton Under 18's: M.Wearne, R.White, S.Pyers, O.Plunkett, C.May, C.Young; Castlemaine Under 18's: A.Frankling, D.Keogh-Frankling, E.Hein, B.McConachy, B.Browne-Kerr, C.McLennan
Golden Square Under 18's 6.9 6.9 13.13 19.15 (129)
South Bendigo Under 18's 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.1 (7)
GOALS: Golden Square Under 18's: T.Turner 4, H.Freckleton 3, R.Lourie 2, B.Gurd 2, Z.Tickell 2, X.Carter 2, B.Rackstraw 1, F.McConville 1, Z.Wescott 1, L.Thomas 1; South Bendigo Under 18's: T.Wastell 1
BEST: Golden Square Under 18's: T.Turner, F.McConville, R.Lourie, M.Eaton, L.Thomas, H.Freckleton; South Bendigo Under 18's: D.Langdon, L.Jones, J.Ipsen, T.Wastell, R.Hodges, B.Leech
Maryborough Under 18's 3.0 5.3 6.6 7.7 (49)
Kangaroo Flat Under 18's 1.4 2.5 3.9 6.12 (48)
GOALS: Maryborough Under 18's: T.Bond 2, J.Howell 2, B.Jacobs 1, D.Nitschke 1; Kangaroo Flat Under 18's: J.Barras 2, R.Savy 1, A.Melis 1
BEST: Maryborough Under 18's: T.Bond, D.Nitschke, L.Guelen, K.Lanfranchi, J.Howell, T.Myers; Kangaroo Flat Under 18's: T.Balcke, X.Dingfelder-Hope, J.Lyons, Z.Miller, A.Melis, K.Crothers
A GRADE: Kangaroo Flat 75 def Maryborough 39, Sandhurst 53 def Gisborne 37, Eaglehawk 58 def Strathfieldsaye 33, South Bendigo 78 def Golden Square 29, Castlemaine 49 def Kyneton 31.
A RESERVE: Eaglehawk 30 dr Strathfieldsaye 30, Sandhurst 41 def Gisborne 40, South Bendigo 68 def Golden Square 20, Castlemaine 37 def Kyneton 28.
B GRADE: Sandhurst 49 def Gisborne 46, South Bendigo 47 def Golden Square 26, Kyneton 43 def Castlemaine 36, Kangaroo Flat 57 def Maryborough 28.
B RESERVE: South Bendigo 49 def Golden Square 21, Castlemaine 47 def Kyneton 21, Kangaroo Flat 64 def Maryborough 20, Sandhurst 46 def Gisborne 45.
17-UNDER: Golden Square 49 def South Bendigo 29, Castlemaine 54 def Kyneton 17, Kangaroo Flat 40 def Maryborough 30, Gisborne 59 def Sandhurst 35, Strathfieldsaye 46 def Eaglehawk 42.
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