BY NATHAN DOLE
NORTH Bendigo’s unbeaten run hit seven after a hard-fought senior footy clash with Heathcote in Saturday’s eighth round of the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.
The Bulldogs went into the match on their turf at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street determined to add to the winning streak and gain a two-win buffer at the top of the ladder.
It was never going to be an easy task for the Robert Bennett-coached North Bendigo as Heathcote’s run of five wins included beating Mount Pleasant at Toolleen, and Lockington Bamawm United at home.
In the opening term the Bulldogs scored seven goals which included successful shots by the in-form Jordan Ford from either pocket at the pavilion end.
Heathcote’s gun forward Corey Grindlay was also a multiple goalkicker.
The skilful Hakeem Johnson made a great start with three goals, while a running goal by captain Aaryn Craig capped a smother by Brodie Thomson at centre half-forward and quick handpass by wingman Riley Paetow.
Key forward Dylan Klemm also kicked the first of his four goals as the Dogs led 44-27 at quarter-time.
In the second term it was Heathcote which had most of the play.
The Andrew Saladino-coached Saints started to hold sway at centre clearances and stoppages.
Grindlay’s marking and goalkicking prowess was to the fore as he booted three goals, while a highlight was Victor Butler’s checkside shot on the run.
When Johnson intercepted a defensive kick-in and goaled the Dogs were up by 19 points, but the Saints finished the half with consecutive goals.
A spark for North Bendigo in the third term was provided by the talented Cody Riddick with a brilliant running goal from a tight angle in the pavilion pocket.
A century goalkicker for the under-18s last season, Riddick’s workrate from half-forward and further afield was outstanding.
A run of unanswered goals by the Bulldogs included two by Klemm as Ford and Craig were also on target.
The Saints cut the margin to 24 when they scored the last two goals of the term.
Grindlay slotted his sixth goal to cap the Saints early dominance of the final term.
Heat was on the Dogs when Craig was booked for charging Liam Jacques and sent off at just over 11 minutes to go.
Intercept marks by Bailey Wingrave, Shane Harris and Jordan Ford in defence were crucial, along with the Dogs ability to shut down the Saints’ attacks.
A Storm Giri goal after a free kick in the pocket gave North Bendigo a four-goal buffer.
Saints’ skipper Codie Price capped a superb game off half-back by kicking his second and what would be the final goal of the match as the Dogs ran out 98-81 victors.
North Bendigo’s best were Cody Riddick, Dylan Klemm, Jack Francis, Jordan Ford, Riley Paetow and Manny Thalasinos.
Best for the Saints were Mitchell McLean, Corey Grindlay, Liam Jacques, William Direen and Connor Hamilton in defence, and Codie Price.
Leitchville Gunbower marked its third win of the season after it turned a four-goal deficit at quarter-time into a 14-point victory on Colbinabbin’s ground at M.J. Morgan Oval.
The Jed Brain-coached Colbinabbin started superbly to lead 6.1 to 2.1 at the first break.
In term two it was the Bombers who capitalised on chances to score 3.1 to a point.
The Shannon Keam-coached Leitchville Gunbower then won the vital third quarter, 26-14, and added 2.4 to 1.2 in the last to complete a 74-60 victory.
Lachlan Sverns was superb in LG’s attack as he finished with five goals in a best on ground performance.
Billy Hawken chipped in with three and Chris Horman added two majors for the Bombers.
Colbinabbin’s attack was led by Jed Brain on four goals as Jai Carn and Hugh McMurtrie kicked two.
Best for Leitchville Gunbower were Lachlan Sverns, Caleb Hislop, Josh Hawken, Jye Keath, James Kervin and Bryce Barnstable.
Colbinabbin’s best were Logan Fitzgerald, Luke Moore, Ben Barton, Charles Ryan, Stephen Tuohey and Jed Brain.
Six goals to nil in the first quarter set up Lockington Bamawm United’s big win at home against Elmore.
The Stacy Fiske-coached Cats were fired up after a hat-trick of defeats.
LBU scored 6.4 to a point in the opening term and added 3.1 to 1.1 in the second to well in control of the contest.
As the Cats scored 5.3 in the third the defence was excellent as the Bloods were held to a point.
Led by the play of Brodie Collins, Thomas Eade and Riley McIvor the Cats went on to record a 119-29 victory.
Riley McIvor and Anthony McMahon kicked a match-high four goals as Thomas Leech and Tyler Phillips added three each.
Best for the Cats included Brock Kennedy, Thomas Leech and Rhys Bradley.
Mychael Baker, Rhys Holmberg, Nathan Kay, Zac Laffy, Daniel Russell and Matt Gilmour were best for an Elmore team jointly coached by Dylan Friedberger, playing, and Mick Woolhouse, non-playing.
White Hills dominated play on Huntly’s Strauch Reserve.
The Demons led 21-6 at quarter-time and then slammed on 11.6 to 1.1 in a second term onslaught.
In what was the team’s best four-quarter feat so far, White Hills went on to record a 27.16 (178) to 4.2 (26) victory.
The classy Kaiden Antonowicz led the attack on six goals as Bayden Fallon added five.
Other multiple goalkickers for the Demons were Jake Allport, Liam Bartels and Mitch Dole, three; and Cohen Kekich and Nic Warnock, two.
Abe Sladden kicked two goals for Huntly.
Best for the Demons who are jointly coached by Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt were Liam Bartels, captain Rhys Irwin, Nic Warnock, Sam Lowes, Jake Pallpratt and Josh Harris.
Huntly co-coach Harry Whittle led the way for the brown and gold, along with Jackson Fry, Kurt Forder, Bailey Jones, Lachlan Watson and Ben Hilson.
Mount Pleasant had the bye.
Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:
North Bendigo 144 per cent, 28 points; Mount Pleasant 185, 20; Heathcote 140, 20; White Hills 138, 20; Lockington Bamawm United 116, 12; Leitchville Gunbower 71, 12; Colbinabbin 83, 8; Elmore 66, 8; Huntly 36, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race:
41 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.
37 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.
29 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.
26 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.
22 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.
20 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.
20 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.
19 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.
17 Anthony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.
15 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.
12 Aarryn Craig, North Bendigo.
12 Hakeem Johnson, North Bendigo.
12 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.
12 Cody Riddick, North Bendigo.
11 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.
11 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.
10 Riley McIvor, Lockington Bamawm United.
10 Riley McNamara, Mount Pleasant.
10 Nic Warnock, White Hills.
It’s a general bye for the King’s Birthday holiday weekend of June 10-12.
Clubs reach the halfway mark of the home-and-away series on June 17 when round nine will be played.
Lockington Bamawm United is back on home turf at Lockington to take on Mount Pleasant.
It’s the Bloods versus Bulldogs as Elmore hosts North Bendigo.
Heathcote clashes with Huntly on the Saints’ turf at Barrack Reserve.
White Hills and Colbinabbin meet in the Demons’ den at Winslow Constructors Oval in Scott Street, White Hills.
Leitchville Gunbower has the bye.