BY NATHAN DOLE
NOT many clubs have marked a victory in senior footy at Gisborne’s Gardiner Reserve in recent Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League seasons.
In Saturday’s start to the 2023 season it was Strathfieldsaye which stunned Gisborne in the rematch of last year’s grand finalists.
A new-look Gisborne had Brad Fox mark his first match as senior coach, and Jack Reaper as captain.
The Bulldogs led 22-14 at quarter-time, but the Darryl Wilson and Shannon Geary-coached Strathfieldsaye struck back to lead 42-36 by half-time.
Storm’s pressure, run and greater accuracy were telling factors in the vital third quarter as it added 3.2 to 1.4 to hold a 15-point lead at a quarter to go.
The Bulldogs fought on to win the last, 20-17, but it was Storm which celebrated a memorable 79-67 victory.
Michelsen medallists, Jake Moorhead and captain Lachlan Sharp played starring roles in Storm’s win.
A gun on-baller, Moorhead was best afield as Sharp kicked a match-high four goals.
Recruited from Violet Town after kicking a century of goals last season, Jack Exell was also sharp in Storm’s attack and booted three.
Gisborne’s attack was led by former Castlemaine player Zac Denahy, and Harry Luxmoore on three each.
Best for Storm were Moorhead, Callum McCarty, Bode Stevens, Daniel Clohesy, Riley Wilson and Joseph Mayes.
Gisborne’s best were Jack Reaper, Liam Spear, Luke Ellings, Flynn Lakey, Sam Graham and Matt Weber.
It was a tough slog for Maryborough and Castlemaine at Maryborough’s Princes Park.
The Coby Perry-coached Maryborough looked a great chance to break its winless run as it led 25-14 at three quarter-time.
In the last it was Castlemaine which dominated the centre breaks and stoppages.
After a wayward 1.8 in the opening three teams, Castlemaine added 3.5 to a point in the last to claim a 37-26 victory in Brendan Shepherd’s first match as the club’s senior coach.
Castlemaine’s best were John Watson, Brodie Byrne, Matt Filo, Lloyd Butcher, Callum McConachy and Brendan Josey.
Ty Stewart, Joel Stewart, Brady Neill, Luke Bucknall, Taj Bond and Kya Lanfranchi played well for Maryborough.
A five-goal surge in the second quarter put Eaglehawk in control of its contest with South Bendigo at Kennington’s Harry Trott Oval.
It was the start of a new era for South Bendigo which now calls the Neale Street ground home.
A highlight for Eaglehawk was the Geary brothers, Jarryn and Kallen teaming up for the first time in many years.
The Nathan Horbury-coached Bloods led 14-7 at quarter-time, but the Hawks scored 5.1 to 2.3 in the second to lead 38-29 at the main break.
South Bendigo won the third, 16-12, to be within five points at a quarter to go.
The rain and slippery conditions were a test for all players.
Led by the play of Billy Evans, Clayton Holmes and Dylan Hanley, the Travis Matheson-coached Hawks won 58-48.
Recruited from Strathfieldsaye and Golden Square respectively, Kallen Geary and Dylan Hird led the Hawks’ attack on two goals each.
Sam Griffiths and Will Keck kicked two goals for the Bloods.
Best for the Two Blues included Charlie Laangford, Sam Thompson and Joel Mullen.
The Bloods’ best were Riley Walsh, Mac Cameron, Oscar White, Braydan Torpey, Brody Haddow and Will Keck.
Sandhurst had to work hard to defeat a spirited Kangaroo Flat at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The heat was on the Dragons as the Nathan Johns-coached Kangaroos led 29-24 at three quarter-time.
Sandhurst doubled its score in the last as it added 4.1 to 2.0 to mark a hard-fought 49-41 victory.
Back at the Dragons from Bridgewater, Andy Collins kicked two goals as did Lachlan Wright.
The Roos’ attack was led by Luke Foreman on two.
Sandhurst’s best were Isaac Carracher, James Coghlan, Hamish Hosking, Zach Pallpratt, Matt Wilkinson and Nick Stagg.
Mitch Trewhella, Ryan O’Keefe, Ethan Roberts, Angus Grant, Mitch Collins and Toby Roberts were best for the Kangaroos.
Six goals to nil in the opening term put Golden Square in control of its clash with Kyneton on the Bulldogs’ turf at Fur Life Oval in Wade Street.
The Bulldogs were determined to mark captain Jack Geary’s 200th senior game with a victory and did not disappoint.
After a return of 6.6 in the first, Golden Square added 4.1 to 1.1 in the second to lead by 59 points at half-time.
The Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton did lift to score 2.2 to 2.3 in the third.
Gun forwards Joel Brett and Jayden Burke kicked four and two goals respectively as the Christian Carter-coached Bulldogs won 89-25.
The classy Tom Quinn kicked two goals for the Tigers.
Best for the Bulldogs were Ricky Monti, Liam Duguid, Terence Reeves, Liam Barrett, Tom Toma and Zack Shelton.
The Tigers’ best were Jordan Iudica, Tom Quinn, Matthew Hanna, Lucas Iudica, Mitch Comben and Mitchell Johns.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Golden Square 356 per cent, 4 points; Castlemaine 142, 4; Eaglehawk 120, 4; Sandhurst 119, 4; Strathfieldsaye 117, 4; Gisborne 84, 0; Kangaroo Flat 83, 0; South Bendigo 82, 0; Maryborough 70, 0; Kyneton 28, 0.
Match of the day in Saturday’s second round will be at Triple M Park in Strathfieldsaye’s Tannery Lane where Storm takes on Golden Square.
Castlemaine is at home at Camp Reserve to take on Gisborne.
Eaglehawk and Maryborough clash at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park.
Kyneton tackles Sandhurst at Kyneton Showgrounds.
Kangaroo Flat and South Bendigo do battle on the Roos’ ground at Dower Park.