IN A game that had ebbed and flowed throughout the first three quarters, South Bendigo gained the momentum in the final term to kick away to a 22-point win over Eaglehawk and earn a spot back in the BFNL top five on Saturday.
The crucial clash at the QEO between two sides that had both gone in with 5-5 records and percentage outside the top five was set up for a thrilling finale at the final change as the Bloods held a one-point lead.
But the final term was dominated by the Bloods, who finished full of run to win 15.7 (97) to 11.9 (75), taking the top-five spot of Sandhurst after its loss to Strathfieldsaye.
In a way the game somewhat encapsulated the up-and-down season of the Bloods and their inconsistency in terms of producing some high quality football one week and then falling away the next.
The Bloods were sluggish early when they conceded five of the first six goals of the game to trail by 26 points 10 minutes into the second term, 5.3 to 1.1, yet from that moment responded to outscore the Hawks 14.6 to 6.6 the remainder of the match.
The middle two quarters of the game were filled with momentum swings.
After leading by 14 points at quarter-time the Hawks, who put their slow starts of recent weeks behind them, kicked the first two goals of the second term through Sean Williams (from 50m) and Darcy Richards to skip out to the 26-point advantage.
At that stage it was 16 inside 50s apiece, but the Bloods were unable to go forward with precision and the Hawks' defence held up their attacking forays.
Then came three goals in a row to South Bendigo (two to Kaiden Antonowicz, one to Daniel Nalder) as the Bloods closed within eight points, before two more Eaglehawk goals through Mitch Ronchieri and Williams.
The quarter ended with another two goals in succession to the Bloods through Jesse Sheahan and the dangerous Brock Harvey, who showed a touch of class with his evasive skills, as the Hawks went into half-time leading by 10 points, 7.6 to 6.2.
It was a similar pattern of the two sides jostling for momentum in the third quarter.
The Bloods unleashed their coveted QEO running game early in the third quarter and with X-factor Antonowicz, who alternated between mid and forward, threatening inside 50 South Bendigo kicked the first three goals of the term.
Antonowicz slotted two of them, the first from 50m that rolled through, before Oscar White nailed a 40m kick that sailed through to give the Bloods a 10-point buffer.
With the challenge thrown down to them the Hawks responded with back-to-back set-shot goals through Richards and Fraser Verhey giving the visitors back the lead by three points.
By three quarter-time the Bloods had edged their way back in front by one point, 11.3 to 10.8, setting the stage for a "who wanted it the most" battle in the final term.
With the game on the line it was the Bloods who seized their opportunity, kicking the first three goals of the final term to break the game open.
Harvey kicked two of the decisive goals, the first from a strong contested mark, before the second was from a 40m set-shot on the South Bendigo rooms flank as the Bloods surged.
The Bloods ended the game with a 4.4 to 1.1 final term, with the vital win a massive turnaround from the previous week's 93-point hiding from Golden Square.
Antonowicz finished with five goals to have a major bearing on the result with his work both inside 50 and through the middle of the ground.
Harvey (three), in-form mid/forward Michael Herlihy (two) and White (two) were also multiple goalkickers for the Bloods.
The Hawks smashed the Bloods out of the middle 10-4 in the first half as ruckman Jack Lawton dominated the hit-outs, but South Bendigo gained the upper hand in the second half, winning the centre breaks 10-5.
The defeat drops the Hawks to 5-6 and one game outside the top five, with their only win from their past four games a one-point victory over Castlemaine.
The forward duo of Richards (four), who took a number of strong marks, and Williams (three) combined for seven of their side's 11 goals.
The Hawks lost defender Jacob O'Brien (AC joint) in the first quarter, which came on top of captain Shaun Knott and the lively Brady Rowles, whose running game would have been well suited to the QEO, having to withdraw on Saturday morning due to COVID protocols.
Castlemaine Seniors 5.3 7.5 11.6 13.12 (90)
Maryborough Seniors 2.0 3.6 6.8 8.8 (56)
GOALS: Castlemaine Seniors: Z.Denahy 6, B.Keogh 2, J.Chester 2, E.Maltby 1, B.Byrne 1, W.Moran 1; Maryborough Seniors: K.Constable 3, P.Van der pol 2, B.Neill 1, L.Hurse 1, P.Chard 1
BEST: Castlemaine Seniors: T.Horne, R.Pedretti, J.Hood, Z.Denahy, W.Moran, B.Keogh; Maryborough Seniors: L.Latch, K.Lanfranchi, L.Murphy, P.Van der pol, K.Constable, D.Nitschke
Golden Square Seniors 4.8 10.13 16.15 23.23 (161)
Kangaroo Flat Seniors 3.2 4.2 7.3 7.3 (45)
GOALS: Golden Square Seniors: J.Brett 6, J.Burke 4, B.Vaz 2, J.Geary 1, B.James 1, J.Hickman 1, J.Fitzpatrick 1, T.Strauch 1, A.Jenkyn 1, H.Morcom 1, J.Thrum 1, L.Duguid 1, R.Hartley 1; Kangaroo Flat Seniors: H.Lockhart 1, J.Barras 1, J.Short 1, M.Johnson 1, L.Collins 1, E.Roberts 1, L.Wilson 1
BEST: Golden Square Seniors: J.Geary, T.Strauch, L.Duguid, J.Brett, J.Burke, J.Hickman; Kangaroo Flat Seniors: L.Collins, M.Johnson, C.Smith, M.Rovers, E.Roberts, S.Barnes
Gisborne Seniors 7.4 14.8 15.10 18.11 (119)
Kyneton Seniors 1.2 8.6 9.6 9.6 (60)
GOALS: Gisborne Seniors: J.Kemp 6, L.Ellings 3, M.Merrett 2, M.Panuccio 2, E.Minns 1, H.Thomas 1, N.Doolan 1, J.Fox 1, J.Normington 1; Kyneton Seniors: A.Nolte 2, R.Pretty 2, M.Comben 1, B.McGee 1, D.Bartrop 1, H.Sheahan 1, R.Magin 1
BEST: Gisborne Seniors: M.Lord, L.Ellings, F.Lakey, L.Spear, L.Rodgers, S.Graham; Kyneton Seniors: F.Driscoll, G.Dickson, H.Huntley, M.Crozier, H.Sheahan, J.Gaff
Strathfieldsaye Seniors 4.1 8.1 11.3 16.5 (101)
Sandhurst Seniors 4.2 8.8 10.10 11.12 (78)
GOALS: Strathfieldsaye Seniors: J.Schischka 5, L.Gill 4, B.Slater 4, R.Clarke 2, C.Sheahan 1; Sandhurst Seniors: M.Thornton 5, C.Maxted 3, L.Hood 1, J.Rodi 1
BEST: Strathfieldsaye Seniors: L.Gill, C.McCarty, M.Hallinan, J.Moorhead, B.Lester, L.Ratcliffe; Sandhurst Seniors: T.Nally, I.Ruff, M.Thornton, L.Coghlan, C.Maxted, J.Rodi
South Bendigo Seniors 1.1 6.2 11.3 15.7 (97)
Eaglehawk Seniors 3.2 7.6 10.8 11.9 (75)
GOALS: South Bendigo Seniors: K.Antonowicz 5, B.Harvey 3, M.Herlihy 2, O.White 2, D.Nalder 1, L.Byrne 1, J.Sheahan 1; Eaglehawk Seniors: D.Richards 4, S.Williams 3, B.Thompson 1, F.Verhey 1, Z.Carter 1
BEST: South Bendigo Seniors: B.Harvey, K.Antonowicz, M.Herlihy, I.Miller, Z.Hare; Eaglehawk Seniors: J.Mullen, D.Richards, O.Madden, K.Lloyd, B.Thompson, J.Lawton"
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