A look back at some of the key moments from the weekend’s NFNL senior football action.
THE UPSET – #1
Few would have given Lower Plenty any chance of beating second-placed Heidelberg in their Round 8 outing in Meadows Greyhounds Division 1. The Bears had lost their past six matches, including a 93-point drubbing to previously winless West Preston-Lakeside in Round 7. Heidelberg had dropped just one game for the season and entered the match on the back of a 65-point win away to Northcote Park last up. But with Tiger stars Jack Blair, Chaz Sargeant and Matthew Cecchin all sidelined, Lower Plenty took the opportunity that presented itself and scored a thrilling four-point win at Montmorency Park South Oval. The Bears trailed by 16 points at three quarter time and conceded the opening goal of the final term. They piled on four unanswered goals to move within a kick of the lead, before a goal to Sam Grimley pushed the Tigers eight points ahead with five minutes to play. Step up Corey Sleep and Matt Duckworth. Sleep booted his sixth goal after taking a spectacular mark, before Duckworth slotted a goal from the left forward pocket in the last minute to give his side a memorable come-from-behind win. Despite the result, Lower Plenty remains on the bottom of the ladder, while Heidelberg retained second spot.
THE UPSET – #2
Hurstbridge hadn’t beaten Bundoora since returning to the top flight in 2017 and the early signs at Yulong Reserve on Saturday indicated the trend would continue. Bundoora looked headed for a big win when it kicked six of the opening seven goals, however the Bridges then produced arguably their best football of the year – kicking seven goals in the second term, including the final four goals of the quarter, to close within four points at half time. Sixteen goals were kicked in the first half, but the game became an arm wrestle in the second half. The Bridges led by four points at three-quarter time, but then fell behind when Bundoora young gun John Jorgensen kicked his fourth goal early in the fourth term. However, Hurstbridge continued its charge and finished with the last three goals to score a 13.9 (87) to 10.11 (71) triumph. It was the Bridges’ third win from the past four games and moved them within four points of the top-five ahead of a crunch game against West Preston-Lakeside at Ben Frilay Oval in Round 9.
BEARS, PANTHERS EXERT DOMINANCE
Round 8 in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 was billed as a potential finals preview, with the top-four sides competing against each other. However, both games proved to be one-sided with ladder-leader Banyule and second-placed Eltham each scoring convincing wins over Whittlesea and Thomastown respectively. The writing was on the wall early in both matches. Banyule piled on seven goals in the first quarter at the Whittlesea Showgrounds to take a 40-point lead into the first break. They then eased to a 44-point win, spearheaded by six goals to Mitch Lovell. Eltham was just as dominant early – kicking six goals to two in the first term to lead Thomastown by 26 points at quarter time. The Panthers were always in control thereafter. All is in order for an absorbing race to the finals, with Round 8 wins to Fitzroy Stars and Diamond Creek meaning just one win separates second through to sixth. But if the weekend’s results are anything to go by, the top-two sides look to have established a class gap on the chasing pack as we near the halfway point of the season.
LIONS ROAR INTO TOP-FOUR
Perennial finalist South Morang jumped back into the Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 top-four for the first time since Round 1. The Lions did so with an 11-point win over Heidelberg West in what proved a topsy-turvy affair at Heidelberg Park. South Morang looked home and hosed at half time when it led its host by 34 points. However, Heidelberg West rallied with nine of the next 12 goals to pinch the midway through the last quarter. South Morang levelled the scores via a goal to Lachlan Golledge, before Tye Hall took an absolute hanger and converted to restore the Lions’ lead. Golledge kicked another shortly after to seal South Morang’s fifth win of the year and help the club jump Heidelberg West into fourth spot. The result helped South Morang atone for its early-season loss to the Hawks, where the Lions led by 26 points during the third term only to be overrun in a five-point loss at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.
DAY OUT FOR SPURS
It was a weekend to savour for the VU Western Spurs, with all three sides recording wins at Henry Turner Reserve. In a remarkable feat, the Spurs didn’t concede a score across each of the three games. Led by Carly Eeles and four goals to Stacy Rigon, the Division 3 side started the day with a 59-point triumph over Hurstbridge. The Division 2 side was just as dominant in a 72-point win over Heidelberg – where Krystle Artuso and Rebecca Bliss enjoyed strong outings. The day was capped with a 180-point win for the Division 1 side over Bendigo, where Taylor Moss, Caitlyn Brown and Jasmine Maljevac combined for 13 goals. The huge win kept the Spurs perched atop the ANZ Division 1 Women’s ladder, having won all seven matches to start the 2019 campaign.