Hurstbridge broke through for its first win of the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 season, with a 42-point win over Whittlesea in Round 4.
The Bridges fought off a Chris Horman-inspired comeback by the Eagles, kicking six of the final seven goals to run away 17.16 (118) to 10.16 (76) victors at Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Entering the round as the only Division 1 team without a win, coach Trevor Little was impressed with his side’s attack on the ball after a week of soul searching.
“We knew they were going to be hard to beat here and I respect them and rate them and Jim (Atkins) is a great coach, but we had to sort of beat them at their own game today which is our strength as well,” he said.
“We’ve certainly done a bit of soul searching throughout the week and I think our intent today was where we want it to be and we were fortunate enough to finish off with a good win.”
After kicking just four goals against Macleod in Round 3, Little praised his side’s efforts to find different avenues to goal. He also singled out key forward Cameron Cloke who put in a mountain of effort, despite finishing without a major.
Mitch Burton led the way for the Bridges up front, booting five goals in his best match for the year, while Aidan Clarke, Nicholas Milne and Tom Grimes all booted two majors.
“After Round 1 and Round 3 we were probably too Cloke conscious and fairness to Cameron today, he did a power work without getting on the scoreboard.
“What he did was sacrifice his game because we thought that may occur, they may play another player through him.”
Tom Simpson was named best on ground for the Bridges after putting in a dominant display in the midfield, as well as slotting a goal. Brayden Shaw and Burton were also named amongst the best for the winning side.
For the Eagles, Horman was the only multiple goal scorer, kicking four goals, all in the last quarter.
Xavier Dimasi picked up a heap of the ball in midfield and was the home side’s best, alongside Riley Dyson, Clancy Bland and youngster Mitchell Andrews – who fought hard all day.
Hurstbridge burst out of the blocks, with Ryan Jackson kicking the first goal of the match within a minute, before Burton followed with his first soon after.
However, both sides were inaccurate in front of goals early, combing for just four goals from 16 scoring shots in the first term – with the Bridges kicking three of those to take a 10-point lead into quarter time.
An even second quarter saw the sides trade goals, with the margin remaining at 10 points at the main break.
Hurstbridge asserted its dominance in the third quarter with two early goals, before booting another three in a five-minute purple patch midway through the term to extend their lead to 32 points at the final change.
Whittlesea threatened to make a comeback early in the final term after Horman booted three goals in the first five minutes to have the home crowd buzzing, while leaving the Hurstbridge coaching staff nervous.
“When you haven’t won a game, you start to doubt yourself and doubt some of the systems you’ve got, so after those first three goals I got a little bit nervous,” Little said.
“But we got back to the way we played all day and that was the run and carry of the footy, and I’m really pleased the guys finished off the way they did.”
The Bridges settled to pile on six of the next seven goals to take home to victory.
The win did come at a cost however with Cooper Perrin forced off the ground early in the second half and Tieren Barbera copping a knock midway through the final term, however Little is confident both will be fine.
“Cooper got a hit to the head and we were being on the side of caution because we didn’t want to risk anything with him,” he said
“Tieren I think just has a stinger. We’ll assess that but it looks as though it’s nothing serious.”
Final score: Whittlesea 10.16 (76) def by Hurstbridge 17.16 (118)