LOCKINGTON-Bamawm United maintained top spot on the Heathcote District league ladder with a 23-point win over Mount Pleasant on Saturday.
In what was a clash of 1st vs 2nd at Lockington, the Cats got the jump on the Blues in the first quarter to set up their 13.16 (94) to 9.17 (71) win.
One of the strong traits of Mount Pleasant this year has been the Blues' ability to start well and put their opposition under scoreboard pressure.
But the Blues were on the backfoot from the outset when they trailed by 32 points at quarter-time - a margin that should have been more given the Cats' inaccurate 4.8, while Mount Pleasant was held scoreless.
"I think we had six points on the board before we kicked our first goal," LBU coach Brodie Collins said.
"I thought our pressure was really intense today for the first three quarters and dropped off in the last, but fortunately by then we had done enough."
I thought our pressure was really intense today for the first three quarters and dropped off in the last, but fortunately by then we had done enough- Brodie Collins - LBU coach
The Cats' lead had ballooned out to 49 points by three quarter-time before the Blues, having kicked just four goals to that stage of the game, added five in the final term.
As they have done all season, the Cats had a spread of contributors hit the scoreboard.
The Cats had 10 players kick goals led by captain Jarod Bacon, who slotted four and was his side's second-best player behind ruckman Tyler Phillips.
Having had the chance at the start of the day to grab top spot, Mount Pleasant dropped to third and is now just half-a-game clear of fourth-placed North Bendigo.
"LBU's pressure was really good and we just weren't clean enough with the footy today... our skills were terrible," Mount Pleasant co-coach Darren Walsh said.
"We got smashed in the first quarter and were lucky we weren't down by more than we were.
"We got pushed off the ball too easily at times, but overall, it just comes back to our skill level today; it had to be a lot better than what we showed against a really good side.
"To be honest, I thought we were really ordinary today."
After the Cats had been inaccurate with the breeze in the first term, the Blues were also wasteful when they had use of the scoring end in the second quarter, kicking 3.9.
Having missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, Mount Pleasant gun Ben Weightman picked up from where he left off, returning with a haul of five goals and being named the best for the Blues.
The Blues have the bye next week before two huge games to round out the home and away season against fellow premiership contenders North Bendigo and Colbinabbin.
A nine-goal blitz in the first quarter set the stage for Heathcote's 30-point win over Elmore at home.
The Saints had the breeze in the opening term and made the most of it, slamming on 9.1 to 1.1 on the way to a 16.12 (108) to 11.12 (78) victory.
"Our first quarter was brilliant and set up the win for us," Heathcote coach Andrew Saladino said.
"To Elmore's credit, they played well in the second quarter and then after half-time it was pretty much a scrap.
"In the end we did what we had to do and it was good to tick off another win."
The victory ended a four-game losing streak for the Saints and moved them a game clear of White Hills in fifth position with three rounds remaining.
The Saints and Demons will meet next week in what's shaping as a season-on-the-line contest in the fight for fifth between the two sides.
Braden Padmore's outstanding form continued for the Saints. For the third game in a row Padmore, who bagged seven goals, was named Heathcote's best.
"I think he kicked five in the first quarter and then went into the middle," Saladino said.
"He finished with seven goals and had his chances to kick a few more, but that's three best-ons in a row for us now and he's really motoring, which is great."
Saladino also praised the performance of defender Bill Direen on Elmore's Darcy Laffy (whose six goals on the website is incorrect).
"I think two is the most anyone has kicked on Bill this year and he has just been fantastic," Saladino said.
"To be honest, I think he's just about the best defender in the league. He gets a scalp every week and was great again today.
"He's only 22 and has a massive future ahead of him."
The defeat was the fifth loss in a row for the Bloods, who outscored the Saints 10 goals to seven after quarter-time.
"Unfortunately, it was always going to be tough going to pull back that margin from quarter-time," Elmore co-coach Dylan Friedberger said.
The best player for the Bloods was Zack Holmberg.
"Zack was huge for us in the backline today. He has always been a good lockdown defender, but has added some more run into his game and along with Regan Williams is becoming a really good rebounding defender for us," Friedberger said.
On the day North Bendigo celebrated its 75th anniversary, the Bulldogs kept in touch with the top three with a 62-point win over Huntly at Strauch Reserve.
After a pair of scratchy first halves the previous two weeks against Leitchville-Gunbower and Heathcote, this time the Bulldogs were quick to assert their dominance.
The Bulldogs raced to a 40-point lead at half-time on the way to a 15.12 (102) to 5.10 (40) victory.
"One of our big focuses today was to make sure we started well and play four quarters of footy, which we were able to do," North Bendigo coach Rob Bennett said.
After booting 13 goals in the under-18s earlier in the day, young Bulldogs' forward Cody Riddick slotted four for North Bendigo, while Hakeem Johnson kicked three.
Ruckman Jeremy Lambden's impressive season for the Bulldogs continued as he was named best.
"He just gave our midfielders first option all day and set the tone from the first clearance," Bennett said.
"Even though there was a lot of repeat stoppages with Huntly going one-on-one, Jeremy was always able to hit it to one of our guys, which was pleasing."
Assistant coach Jordan Ford, who shifted back to his customary role in defence with Shane Harris (COVID protocols) out, was second best for the Bulldogs.
North Bendigo's Matt Gray was concussed late in the game.
The Hawks' better players were led by Harrison Campbell and Jake Maher.
Meanwhile, North Bendigo stalwart Cameron Lomas celebrated his 350th club game for the Bulldogs with a win in the reserves.
Lomas, who first played with the Bulldogs in 2001, kicked five goals in North Bendigo's 50-point win.
What is becoming a familiar trend played out for Leitchville-Gunbower again in its loss to Colbinabbin.
For the third game in a row against a top-four side the young Bombers defied their bottom-of-the-ladder position to take it right up to their more fancied opponents in the first half.
However, the Bombers again fell away after half-time as a four-point deficit at the main break became a 40-point defeat as Colbinabbin won 18.10 (118) to 12.6 (78) in what was an indigenous game at Gunbower.
"Leitchy has certainly improved since the last time we saw them (Colbinabbin won by 168 points in round six)," Grasshoppers coach Julian Bull said.
"They have some really good young players running around.
"We were flat early in the game and just waiting for it to happen for us and it certainly wasn't pretty, but we played a lot better after half-time and that was based on our effort.
"As soon as we switched on and started setting up the field the way we wanted to, it clicked for us and we played some good footy."
The trio of Laine Fitzgerald (four), James Brain (three) and Jed Brain (three) combined for 10 goals for the Grasshoppers, who lost Clint Shields to a hamstring injury early in the game.
Billy Hawken was the leading goalkicker with three for the Bombers, who for the sixth time in their 13 games this season named ruckman Jobee Warde their best player
Colbinabbin Seniors 1.2 7.4 15.7 18.10 (118)
Leitchville Gunbower Seniors 3.0 7.0 10.0 12.0 (78)
GOALS: Colbinabbin Seniors: L.Fitzgerald 4, J.Brain 3, J.Brain 3, A.Van Ruiswyk 2, H.Barlow 2, M.Battista 2, J.McMurtrie 1, T.Clarke 1; Leitchville Gunbower Seniors: B.Hawken 3, J.Regan 2, J.barrat 2, T.Guerra 1, M.McLellan 1, M.Candy 1, B.Azzopardi 1, A.Windridge 1
BEST: Colbinabbin Seniors: J.Brain, L.Fitzgerald, M.Battista, J.McMurtrie, B.Barton, D.Price; Leitchville Gunbower Seniors: J.Warde, B.Hawken, J.Regan, M.Candy, H.Bussey, S.Lewis
North Bendigo Seniors 4.4 10.5 13.9 15.12 (102)
Huntly Seniors 2.2 3.7 4.9 5.10 (40)
GOALS: North Bendigo Seniors: C.Riddick 4, H.Johnson 3, J.Somerville 2, D.Klemm 2, J.Bennett 1, M.Gray 1, B.Cross 1, J.Francis 1; Huntly Seniors: B.Hilson 1, F.Campbell 1, K.Forster 1, M.Christensen 1, J.Matthews 1
BEST: North Bendigo Seniors: J.Lambden, J.Ford, S.Giri, N.Waterson, S.Demeo, N.Newlan; Huntly Seniors: H.Campbell, J.Maher, T.Miles, M.Christensen, J.Cordy, C.Aldous
Heathcote Seniors 9.1 10.2 14.6 16.9 (108)
Elmore Seniors 1.1 6.4 8.6 11.12 (78)
GOALS: Heathcote Seniors: B.Padmore 7, K.Cavallaro 3, H.McCarthy 1, J.Brooks 1, B.Price 1, S.Harrison 1, J.Conforti 1; Elmore Seniors: Incomplete
BEST: Heathcote Seniors: B.Padmore, W.Direen, S.Harrison, K.Cavallaro, J.Beedle, V.Butler; Elmore Seniors: Z.Holmberg, C.Beckmans, R.Williams, T.Amor Beale, B.Sawyer, L.Gundry
Lockington Bamawm United Seniors 4.8 6.10 12.12 13.16 (94)
Mount Pleasant Seniors 0.0 3.9 4.11 9.17 (71)
GOALS: Lockington Bamawm United Seniors: J.Bacon 4, M.Angove 1, J.Gardiner 1, R.McIvor 1, T.Phillips 1, A.McMahon 1, T.Leech 1, L.Atherton 1, C.Hinks 1, J.Collins 1; Mount Pleasant Seniors: B.Weightman 5, J.Hufer 1, A.Baird 1, J.Tuohey 1, C.Down 1
BEST: Lockington Bamawm United Seniors: T.Phillips, J.Bacon, R.McIvor, L.Atherton, H.Cobb, T.Bacon; Mount Pleasant Seniors: B.Weightman, S.Greene, A.Baird, C.Down, B.Hinneberg, W.Wallace
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