GOLDEN Square put Sandhurst out of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy premiership race as it won Sunday’s thrilling elimination final at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Although the Dragons finished the home and away series a rung below fourth-placed Golden Square, they had beaten the Bulldogs in both previous showdowns.
Two of the Bendigo FNL’s greatest rivals played out a brilliant match.
Golden Square led 14-12 at quarter-time, but Sandhurst’s remarakable accuracy was a key factor as it led 5.0 (30) to 4.4 (28) at half-time.
Little separated the teams in the third quarter as both added 2.2.
It became a goalscoring spree in what would be the final quarter the Dogs or Dragons would play this year.
A snapped goal by Callum Draper to cap a best afield performance for Golden Square and another by Hamish Morcom well after the 30-minute mark clinched an 11.11 (77) to 10.2 (62) victory.
Multiple goalkickers for the Bulldogs were Travis Baird, in his comeback from a hamstring injury, and Braydon Vaz on two each.
The Dragons’ attack was led by the skilful Andy Collins, three, and strong-marking Matt Thornton, two.
Best for the Bulldogs were Draper, Dale Lowry, Vaz, Jake Thrum, Travis Baird and captain Jack Geary.
Ruckman Chris Down, Nick Stagg, Jake Pallpratt, Liam Ireland, Lachlan Ross and Zac Pallpratt starred for Sandhurst.
Finals action kicked off Saturday when Eaglehawk and Gisborne played the qualifying final under the QEO lights.
It was Gisborne which dominated most of the first half.
The Bulldogs’ slick movement from half-back through midfield set up several brilliant goals.
A highlight was the long and precise kicking from Gisborne coach Clinton Young who was often given too much time and space from off half-back or a wing.
Gisborne led 3.2 to 1.2 at quarter-time and worked hard to lead 34-22 by the long break.
Whatever Hawks’ coach Travis Matheson said at half-time worked as the Borough slammed on 5.3 to 1.2 in the third term to lead 55-42 at a quarter to go.
The Hawks applied a lot more pressure which forced several turnovers to capitalise on.
It became the “Ben McPhee Show” as the match went on as the Hawks onballer won plenty of the footy and also finished with a team-high three goals.
Eaglehawk added 5.4 to 1.3 in the last to complete a 13.11 (89) to 7.9 (51) victory.
The in-form Jesse Collins and Riley Saunders added two goals apiece as the Hawks had six other goalkickers.
Gisborne’s attack was led by Brad Bernacki and Pat McKenna on three each.
Best for Eaglehawk were McPhee, Jesse Collins, Ryan Gillingham, Brodie Collins, Clayton Holmes and Richard Tibbett.
Gisborne’s best were Ethan Minns, key defender James Ferry, Sam Graham, Brad Bernacki, Pat McKenna and Josh Grabham.
Qualifying finals scoreboard:
Eaglehawk 1.2 3.4 8.7 13.11 (89)
Gisborne 3.2 5.4 6.6 7.9 (51)
GOALS – Eaglehawk: B. McPhee 3, J. Collins, R. Saunders 2, B. Collins, B. Conforti, J. Fallon, S. Harper, G. Hommelhoff, S. Williams. Gisborne: B. Bernacki, P. McKenna 3, E. Minns.
BEST – Eaglehawk: B. McPhee, J. Collins, R. Gillingham, B. Collins, C. Holmes, R. Tibbett. Gisborne: E. Minns, J. Ferry, S. Graham, B. Bernacki, P. McKenna, J. Grabham.
Eaglehawk 3.2 5.3 6.4 10.7 (67)
Gisborne 1.3 3.5 5.9 5.12 (42)
GOALS – Eaglehawk: S. Dean 4, C. Davies, B. Thompson 2, J. Cross, C. Jacobs. Gisborne: D. Clayton, S. Comerford, L. Docherty, H. Doricic, J. Vernon.
BEST – Eaglehawk: B. Brown, J. Thompson, C. Davies, S. Dean, R. Foster, T. Miles. Gisborne: H. Doricic, D. Challis, C. Williamson, A. Storie, D. Clayton, J. Manago.
Sandhurst 3.0 6.0 8.1 8.3 (51)
Gisborne 2.1 2.3 4.4 5.8 (38)
GOALS – Sandhurst: H. Bombardieri, C. Connick, Z. Featherby, H. Gallagher, B. Hartland, Z. Sims, T. Starr, N. Walsh. Gisborne: T. Hamilton, L. Weber 2, D. Peavey.
BEST – Sandhurst: N. Walsh, C. Connick, C. Maxted, I. Carracher, Z. Sims. Gisborne: T. Collings, J. Ozanne, F. Lakey, A. Brancatisano, J. McDonald, E. Bretherton.
Elimination finals scoreboard:
Golden Square 2.2 4.4 6.6 11.11 (77)
Sandhurst 2.0 5.0 7.2 10.2 (62)
GOALS – Golden Square: T. Baird, B. Vaz 2, L. Barrett, S. Brinsmead, J. Burke, C. Draper, D. Lowry, M. Horcom, J. Thrum. Sandhurst: A. Collins 3, M. Thornton 2, J. McLean, J. Pallpratt, Z. Pallpratt, J. Rodi, L. Zimmer.
BEST – Golden Square: C. Draper, D. Lowry, B. Vaz, J. Thrum, T. Baird, J. Geary. Sandhurst: C. Down, N. Stagg, J. Pallpratt, L. Ireland, L. Ross, Z. Pallpratt.
South Bendigo 3.2 6.7 10.10 14.17 (101)
Golden Square 0.3 1.5 4.8 4.9 (33)
GOALS – South Bendigo: A. Williams 4, J. Sheahan 3, T. McLeod 2, C. Balnaves, M. Long, S. Maher, C. Stewart, R. Walsh. Golden Square: J. Rosengren 3, M. Evans.
BEST – South Bendigo: A. Brohm, S. Maher, S. Wild, C. Hindle, T. McLeod, J. Sheahan. Golden Square: J. Rosengren, T. Walters, D. Norris, N. Holt, Z. Holmes, T. Paterson.
Kangaroo Flat 1.4 3.5 3.7 6.10 (46)
Golden Square 2.1 2.3 4.6 6.9 (45)
GOALS – Kangaroo Flat: J. Hickman, H. Johnson, L. Lee, R. O’Keefe, M. Rovers, L. Wilson. Golden Square: D. Matricardi, J. Leach, F. Bynon, R. Monti, J. Merrin, A. Jenkyn.
Schedule for Saturday’s second semi-finals at Queen Elizabeth Oval:
Seniors at 6pm: Strathfieldsaye v Eaglehawk.
Reserves at 3.55pm: Strathfieldsaye v Eaglehawk.
Under-18s at 1.50pm: Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst.
Schedule for Sunday’s first semi-finals at Queen Elizabeth Oval:
Seniors at 2.20pm: Gisborne v Golden Square.
Reserves at 12.15pm: Gisborne v South Bendigo.
Under-18s at 10.10am: Gisborne v Kangaroo Flat.