Eltham secured a seventh win of the 2023 MC Labour Division 2 season, following a comfortable 44-point win over Northcote Park at Eltham Central Park.
Just 16 points separated the two sides at the main break, but it was eight-goal to three second half that solidified a 11.12 (78) to 4.10 (34) for the Panthers.
The home side’s efficient ball movement and their ability to shut down the Cougars’ opportunities to score were key attributes to their first triumph over Northcote Park since Round 2, 2015, where they won by almost the exact same margin at the same venue.
Colm Culligan played an impressive game for the Panthers, kicking two goals and fighting hard to win every contest.
Another highlight for Eltham was Cameron Sullivan. He kicked a career high four majors, while constantly rewarding his teammates efforts with his persistence and resilience.
Janus Waldron was a key player for the visiting Cougars, as his presence and his pressure making ability put his opponents on notice often, while Michael Amad was crucial up forward, kicking three of his team’s four majors and diligently playing his role around the ground.
Sullivan got things underway with a major in the opening five minutes and was the benefactory of a strong and efficient looking Panthers side throughout the first term.
The Cougars struggled to get anything going up forward and were only able to register two scoring shots as a result.
The majority of the quarter was spent in the Panthers forward 50. 23rd player Taj Andreetta was a stand-out for the hosts, winning plenty of contests as well as plenty of admirers throughout the early stages of the game.
With an eight-point advantage at quarter time, Eltham coach Tim Bongetti instructed his players to “get the fundamentals right and open the game up”.
But while the game hadn’t quite been broken apart, the hosts were still able to extend their lead in the second quarter.
It was a low-scoring term as Northcote Park again struggled to capitalise on their limited time inside 50, only adding one further behind to register their lowest half time score of the season.
Daniel Horsfield was a highlight for quarter, as the dynamic midfielder was a key player in shutting down the visitors’ attempts to hit the scoreboard.
Northcote Park’s skipper Matthew Perry was strong for the Cougars, but the intensity of his side just wasn’t reflected where it counted, leaving Eltham with a 16-point advantage at half time.
The visitors brought that intensity into the early stages of the second half, but once again couldn’t convert their shots into goals, kicking three straight behinds to start the third term.
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to shut down Northcote Park’s momentum as a result, with Sullivan kicking another major.
Janus Waldron finally kicked the Cougars’ second goal for the game, a scoreboard contribution to match his brilliant performance for the afternoon.
But the hosts always found a way to get ahead of their opponents, exemplified by the impact of Culligan as well as a brilliant goal from the in-form Jason McCormick following a forced turnover by his teammates.
Northcote Park kicked 1.6 for the term to trail by four straight goals, but coach Stephen Saddington didn’t give up on his side at three quarter time, telling his men to “tighten it up and take your chances”.
Michael Amad shone in the final quarter for the visitors, taking his coach’s words to heart by scoring two goals for the Cougars.
But Eltham were too strong, with a five-goal final term confirming yet another victory in front of their home fans.