North Heidelberg have produced another relentless display in the 2023 Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 finals series, this time ending Montmorency’s season with a 57-point first semi-final victory at Preston City Oval.
The Bulldogs conceded the first three majors of the match but responded with five consecutive goals of their own, never being headed afterwards on their way to a 17.12 (114) to 8.9 (57) triumph.
Jason Heatley’s men have now booked a preliminary final date with Bundoora, their first since 2019, meanwhile despite their best home and away campaign since 2013, the Magpies will exit in straight sets, having now won just one of their last eight finals matches.
The turnaround midway through the opening quarter was led by Majak Daw who simply could not be stopped up forward. He produced four of the five successive majors kicked by North Heidelberg in the early stages of the match and finished with six for the afternoon, truly leading his side to the preliminary final.
He was well supported by lively teenagers Zane Anderson, who booted three goals, and Zane Souleiman, who was a late inclusion for Jhye Baddeley-Kelly.
Jesse Tardio was again prominent in midfield while strong performances from Michael Florance and Nicholas Matthews helped ensure the Bulldogs finished as victors.
With Matthews keeping Fitzgerald quiet for most of the afternoon, Liam McMahon stood up inside 50 for Montmorency and kicked three goals.
Braedyn Gillard was also brave alongside Marcus Lentini in midfield; however, injuries and ill-discipline paved the way for Montmorency’s demise.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom initially for the Magpies, who kicked the first three goals of the game inside the opening fifteen minutes, two of which off the boot of McMahon.
North Heidelberg didn’t look like a side who could keep up with Montmorency until Daw was let loose inside forward 50.
Whether it was through a strong contested mark or a clever goal in open play, the key forward provided a much-needed spark for his side, as his three first quarter goals helped the Bulldogs lead by six points at the first change.
He picked up where he left off two minutes into the second quarter with another goal, but Marcus Lentini was able to put one through himself minutes later to try and wrestle momentum back for his side.
Jonathan Manzoney’s men attempted multiple times to keep the ball inside their attacking half, and after both sides traded goals midway through the term, North Heidelberg would have the last say of the first half, kicking two majors in time on to lead by 20 at the main break.
It was an even opening 10 minutes to the third quarter as the Magpies looked desperate to gain control of the match again.
But every question posed by Montmorency was answered by North Heidelberg and in the space of 13 minutes, they kicked four of the next five majors. Daw kicked his sixth in that time while great efforts from Dane Whitnall and Zane Anderson were rewarded with majors.
The Magpies grew frustrated and after injuries to Ben Paterson and Jai Robinson as well as a yellow card to McMahon, they found themselves with just one rotation on the bench while facing a 32-point deficit at the final change.
Another yellow card, this time to Jaden Collins, meant the Magpies had no rotations for the first 10 minutes of the last quarter.
It all but sealed their fate, as despite Patrick Fitzgerald finally hitting the scoreboard two minutes into the quarter, Brock Chircop would produce the sealer for the Bulldogs.
After McMahon’s third, North Heidelberg finished the match in style, kicking four unanswered goals to keep building momentum ahead of their preliminary final next weekend.