BY NATHAN DOLE
SANDHURST made it a hat-trick of wins for the Ron Best Memorial Shield when it took on Golden Square in Saturday’s third round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League.
Two of the competition’s greatest rivals met once again in a match to honour the goalkicking legend who was a star at Golden Square, crossed to Sandhurst, and then went back to the Bulldogs’ kennel in a brilliant 1624-goal career.
The Dragons and Bulldogs took unbeaten records into their latest showdown at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
A fired-up Sandhurst scored the first four goals before last season’s Ron Best medallist as the BFNL’s leading goalkicker, Joel Brett roved a marking contest and snapped truly.
The Bulldogs finished the term full of run and were rewarded with another two majors by Brett to trail 20-25 at the first break.
It was déjà vu in the second as the Dragons goaled through Matt Thornton and Andy Collins before Ryan Hartley was on target for the blue and gold.
A spectacular leap and mark by Hamish Morcom was capped with another goal to put the Bulldogs back within four points.
Thornton’s marking was a feature of this match as he kicked his third for the Dragons to lead 44-36 at half-time.
Golden Square was first to goal in the third when Jack Stewart capped Zavier Murley’s chase and handball to a team-mate in the clear.
From there it was the Dragons, jointly coached by Ash Connick and Bryce Curnow, who upped their intensity and run.
Goals by Thornton, the classy Lachlan Tardrew, and James Coghlan in less than five minutes gave Sandhurst a 22-point lead.
When Cobi Maxted intercepted a handpass and snapped truly the margin was 28 in the 17th minute.
A mark and goal by Hartley did lift Bulldogs’ hopes.
Sandhurst’s ability to win most centre breaks and stoppages put Square’s defence under pressure all match.
Defences were well on top until the 13 minute of the final term when Lachlan Wright marked and goaled for the Dragons.
Another two majors by the maroon and blue blew the margin out to 42 points.
Murley’s goal was to the last of a match which went Sandhurst’s way, 94-59.
Back in the Dragons’ team as Collingwood had a bye in the VFL, Lachlan Tardrew earned the best afield medal.
It was not his running and disposal that stood out, but also his ability to float across the pack and mark defensive kick-ins to half-back or further afield multiple times.
Gun ruckman Hamish Hosking was superb as were Cooper Smith, Darcy Mills, James Coghlan and Zach Pallpratt.
Best for Golden Square were Zavier Murley, Jack Hickman, Jon Coe, Liam Barrett, Liam Duguid and Brodie James.
A tight-knit Sandhurst defence included Bryce Curnow at centre half-back.
In the rooms, Curnow praised the team’s workrate.
The Dragons won the inside 50m tally, 63-29, and tackles, 43-27.
“They really showed our want to win the contest and workrate as a group,” Curnow said.
“Today was a massive challenge to show where we are at. There is a lot of growth still to come as we adapt to a new game plan, but three-nil is a terrific start.”
Curnow said the play of VFL-aligned players Tardrew, Collingwood; Sam Conforti, Essendon; and Cobi Maxted, Collingwood; was a huge plus.
“The VFL boys were awesome in the way they set up attacks, but also the example they set.”
Archer Day-Wicks who is in the Bendigo Pioneers squad also marked a winning senior debut.
Another big test awaits the Dragons as they make their way to Triple M Park in Tannery Lane for Saturday’s round-four showdown with Strathfieldsaye Storm.
A hot run of form by Eaglehawk kept rolling in Saturday’s third round clash on Gisborne’s turf at Gardiner Reserve.
The Travis Matheson-coached Hawks soared to a 36-point lead by quarter-time after they scored 7.2 to 1.2.
Eaglehawk’s ability to win many contests and stoppages and goalkicking accuracy was to the fore as added 6.1 to 3.2 in the second to lead 81-28 by half-time.
The Brad Fox-coached Gisborne fired back to win the third, 19-8, but the Two Blues scored 4.3 to 2.4 in the last to compete a 112-63 victory.
A six-goal haul by co-captain Cameron McGlashan earned best afield honours.
Other multiple goalkickers for the Borough were Kallen Geary and Liam Marciano.
Gisborne’s attack was led by James Fox and Matt Merrett on two each.
Best for Eaglehawk included Dylan Hanley, Lewin Davis, Kallen Geary, Joel Mullen, and former St Kilda captain Jarryn Geary.
Bulldogs’ skipper and key defender Jack Reaper was best along with Flynn Lakey, Liam Spear, Braidon Blake and Matt Merrett.
Kangaroo Flat fought from 11-points down at the start of the final term to record a 17-point win on Maryborough’s turf at Princes Park.
The Roos led 34-32 at half-time before the Coby Perry-coached Magpies dominated the third.
A return of 1.9 to just two behinds would be a run that Maryborough would rue by match end.
The Nathan Johns-coached Kangaroo Flat lifted in the last to score 6.6 to 2.2 to win 78-61.
Angus Grant led Flat’s attack on four goals to be his team’s best as Sam Barnes added two.
Only multiple goalkicker for Maryborough was Taj Bond with two.
Best for the Roos included Gach Chuol, Zach Rouse, Liam and Mitch Collins, and Mitchell Trewhella.
Back for Maryborough, Sandringham-aligned midfielder Jacob Lohmann made a massive difference to the team’s play.
The Magpies also had Bailey Snelling, Mitch McClure, Taj Bond and Liam Murphy play well.
Club champion in the 2021 season, Bailey Edwards was also back in Maryborough colours and among the best.
South Bendigo small forwards Steven Stroobants and Will Keck kicked four goals apiece as the Bloods beat Kyneton by 46 points at Harry Trott Oval in Kennington.
The Nathan Horbury-coached Bloods led 31-5 at quartert-time.
Kyneton lifted to generate plenty of attacks in the second, but was let down by inaccuracy as the Tigers scored 2.5 to 3.2 for South to lead 51-22 by the main break.
The Paul Chapman-coached Tigers won the third, 14-9, but the Bloods finished with full of run and goals as they added 5.2 to 1.4 to complete a 92-46 victory.
Best for the red and white included mids/onballers Brody Haddow, Cooper Leon, Oscar White and Sam Maher, plus Steven Stroobants in attack, and Braydan Torpey at half-back.
Jake Summers, Harrison Huntley, Mason Crozier, Bailey McGee, Caleb Fisher and Jayden Eales were best for the yellow and black.
Strathfieldsaye showed it has plenty of goalscoring options in a 97-point win at Castlemaine’s Camp Reserve.
The Darryl Wilson-coached Storm went into the match without captain Lachlan Sharp, a Michelsen medallist as league fairest and best, and also dual winner of the Ron Best Medal.
In Saturday’s contest it was James Schischka who led the way on six goals as Jed Brereton added four and Lachlan Gill, Callum McCarty and Jordan Wilson chipped in with two each.
The Brendan Shepherd-coached Magpies worked hard to score 4.5 against a strong opponent.
Best for Storm were Callum McCarty, Tim Hosking, Daniel Clohesy, James Schischka, Jake Moorhead and Darcy Mulquiny.
Brodie Byrne, Liam Wilkinson, John Watson, Callum McConachy, Riley Pedretti and Ethan Hein played well for the Magpies.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Eaglehawk 288 per cent, 12 points; Sandhurst 176, 12; South Bendigo 160, 8; Strathfieldsaye 151, 8; Golden Square 116, 8; Gisborne 107, 4; Kangaroo Flat 77, 4; Castlemaine 37, 4; Kyneton 38, 0; Maryborough 32, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race for the Ron Best Medal:
10 Joel Brett, Golden Square.
10 Will Keck, South Bendigo.
10 Lachlan Sharp, Strathfieldsaye.
9 James Schischka, Strathfieldsaye.
8 Cameron McGlashan, Eaglehawk.
8 Steven Stroobants, South Bendigo.
8 Lachlan Wright, Sandhurst.
7 Zac Denahy, Gisborne.
7 Sam Griffiths, South Bendigo.
7 Ryan Hartley, Golden Square.
7 Matt Thornton, Sandhurst.
6 Dylan Hird, Eaglehawk.
6 Liam Marciano, Eaglehawk.
6 Noah Wheeler, Eaglehawk.
5 Braidon Blake, Gisborne.
5 Kallen Geary, Eaglehawk.
5 Brock Harvey, South Bendigo.
5 Harry Luxmoore, Gisborne.
5 Thomas Quinn, Kyneton.
In other fourth-round matches on Saturday, Kangaroo Flat hosts Gisborne at Dower Park.
Kyneton and Maryborough meet in Tigerland at Kyneton Showgrounds.
Eaglehawk faces Castlemaine in a battle of the birds at Canterbury Park.
Golden Square tackles South Bendigo at Wade Street in a clash between two clubs that have met in six grand finals since 1972.
The ledger is 4-2 in favour of the Bulldogs.