Bundoora overcame a stunning late surge from North Heidelberg to record its first win under new coach Andrew Sturgess.
The Bulls led by 47 points early in the final term, before the Bulldogs finished with seven of the final eight goals to just fall short in a 16.8 (104) to 14.16 (100) result at Yulong Reserve.
The home side looked a certain victor when Sam Willatt’s second goal restored a 35-point advantage in the 22nd minute of the last term.
However, the Bulldogs continued to challenge and kicked five goals in the final nine minutes to close within four points.
The last was a snap from Billy Hogan with ten seconds remaining. The Bulldogs won the ensuing centre clearance, with Leigh Gilbert about to take possession of the loose ball on the 50m arc as the siren sounded – much to the relief of the home fans.
Bundoora may have been fortunate to hold on in the end, however it cannot be denied that the home side was a deserving winner after leading from start to finish.
Daniel Venditti, Nathan Thomas and David Mitchell were instrumental in their side setting up a big lead. The Bulls’ midfield had the upper hand for the opening three quarters and were particularly dominant in a six-goal to nil third term.
Brenton Keating was superb in defence, while Gary Moorcroft booted five goals – including three in a dominant third quarter.
Billy Hogan continued his strong start to the season for the Bulldogs, while Kyle McDonald and Jesse Tardio found plenty of the ball.
There was plenty of feeling early in the contest, with Tardio and Nick Matthews both receiving yellow cards in the opening 15 minutes.
Bundoora capitalised, booting the opening four goals – which included two from 50m penalties – to lead by 22 points midway through the first term.
North Heidelberg finally kicked its first goal in the 24th minute when Brent Harvey marked in the goal square to cut the deficit to 15 points at the first change.
The second quarter proved to be a real arm-wrestle as the two sides battled to gain the ascendency.
The Bulldogs kicked two of the opening three goals of the term, before consecutive goals in two minutes to Mitchell and Gary Moorcroft extended Bundoora’s lead to 21 points entering time-on.
North Heidelberg finished the quarter full of running, booting three goals in time-on, including two to Jarrod Fitzpatrick either side of a Nathan Thomas major, to push his side within eight points.
Momentum was with the Bulldogs entering the main break, however the third quarter belonged entirely to Bundoora.
North Heidelberg was made to pay for two early misses, with Todd Hughes getting on the end of a coast to coast play to restore a 12-point lead for the home side.
It started a dominant blitz for the Bulls.
The Moorcrofts combined for the next four goals, with Gary booting three and Beau slotting a fantastic set shot from the left forward pocket.
Sam Willatt made it six unanswered goals for the term when he kicked his first late in the term to give his side a 43-point lead at three quarter time.
North Heidelberg controlled the early minutes of the final term but couldn’t buy a goal. The Bulldogs booted four consecutive behinds, with the game seemingly sealed when Nathan Thomas kicked a goal against the run of play to put Bundoora 47 points ahead.
However, North Heidelberg refused to give in and began dominating the stoppages.
After going goalless for the opening 40 minutes of the second half, the visitors booted three majors in as many minutes to close within 29 points midway through the quarter.
A goal to Willatt didn’t halt the Bulldogs’ late surge and five consecutive goals from the 23rd minute mark had the crowd in a frenzy in the final minutes.
However, the comeback came too late for the visitors as Bundoora held on for its first victory in 2019.
Final score: Bundoora 16.8 (104) def North Heidelberg 14.16 (100)