It was billed as a blockbuster clash between the top two teams on the MC Labour Division 2 ladder and it was Banyule who romped to a sixth-straight win, downing Diamond Creek to confirm top spot.
Ahead by just nine points at three quarter time, the Bears booted four goals to one in the final term to win 12.10 (82) to 8.8 (56) at Beverley Road Oval.
The visitors started off strongly, but a dominant five-goal to one second term saw Banyule take a commanding 19-point lead into the main break.
With Michael Edwards, Nick Biscontin and Liam Jacob controlling their defensive half, it looked difficult for Diamond Creek to overcome the division’s only undefeated side.
But a spirited third term saw the Creekers slot three majors and fly back to a nine-point deficit at the final break. Despite the margin being closed within a kick in the early stages of the last quarter, Banyule steadied to kick away to a gritty 26-point win.
Reuben Blackmore-Moore was the standout player on the ground, kicking two classy goals and constantly flying for towering marks. His presence in the midfield was golden, often athletically finding space to launch dangerous attacks.
Banyule’s defence was terrific all day, led by Edwards, Biscontin and Jacob. Nick Mayne was also vibrant off half-back, rebounding strongly to ensure the Bears limited Diamond Creek’s scoring abilities.
Tim Martin had a day out in the ruck whilst taking vital intercept marks, while Patrik Della Rocca was electric up forward with three majors and a wealth of contested marks.
For the visitors, Jai Norman created headaches all day with sticky hands and some clever kicks heading into forward 50. Jack Prosser was the pick of the forwards with four goals, and Jaspa Watson toiled hard to encourage the third quarter fightback.
Josh Marchbank and Ewan Macpherson were also impressive for the Creekers, ensuring the losing side could still leave Beverley Road Oval with some positives.
Early goals to Banyule’s Luke Joyce and Diamond Creek’s Ryan Pingree started proceedings, before an exciting finish from Tyler Barnes sparked the visitors halfway through the first term.
In a new role up forward, Bears’ skipper Devin McDonald snagged a major off a set shot, before Jack Prosser banged through the first of his four goals to finish the opening stanza.
Trailing after a lacklustre first period, Banyule sparked into life in the second term, with Blackmore-Moore squeezing through an early goal.
From there, Jack Langford slid and soccered home another, before young midfielder Adam Carafa capped off a superb purple patch for the hosts with a smart snap goal.
The major sparked some passion between the sides, with Banyule awarded a free kick and captain Devin McDonald given the chance to ram home his second major for the day. He gleefully accepted and shot Banyule to a handy buffer.
Despite a strong contested mark and goal from Norman, a late Della Rocca grab and booming set shot goal capped off a massive second term for Banyule, who went into the main break 19 points in front.
Needing to change the momentum, Diamond Creek found early goals through Watson and Prosser, the latter receiving a simple set shot after a high free kick.
Now back into the contest and drawing close to the undefeated Bears on the scoreboard, the home side broke through after a tense period of footy when Della Rocca marked and converted a straight-forward set shot from the goal square.
But the Creekers refused to go away, with Prosser finding his third major to bring the visitors to within eight points at the final break.
Banyule coach Paul Harris was passionate at three quarter time, urging his chargers to grind out the result and continue attacking quickly.
The players took their time to find their rhythm, allowing Prosser to slot his fourth and bring the visitors to within a kick in the opening minutes of the last term.
With a big crowd awaiting a grandstand finish, it was a raft of younger Bears who broke the game open.
Connor Walsh had a strong game on the wing and capped it off by heading forward in the last quarter and producing a miraculous drop punt from the boundary that curled through the big sticks.
Sensing the moment, Della Rocca continued to cause headaches, producing another thrilling mark before going back and converting the set shot.
Now with breathing space in front of a loud crowd, Walsh crumbed to perfection five minutes later and snapped a classy goal through.
To confirm the result, Blackmore-Moore placed an exclamation mark on the result while also capping off a best on ground display in the midfield when he slid from nowhere to soccer home a freak goal in the pocket.
With the game now over, Banyule’s defence showed composure to control the final minutes and confirm the result.
It was another solid win from the Bears, who are making a habit of producing tough footy against good teams in clutch moments.
For the Creekers, it once again confirmed their improvement across the board in 2021, while showing where they need to improve if they are to challenge for the flag.
Final scores: Banyule 12.10 (82) def Diamond Creek 8.8 (56)
Goal Kickers: P. Della Rocca 3, D. McDonald 2, R. Blackmore-Moore 2, C. Walsh 2, J. Langford, A. Carafa, L. Joyce
Best Players: R. Blackmore-Moore, M. Edwards, L. Jacob, T. Martin, D. McDonald, C. Walsh
Goal Kickers: J. Prosser 4, J. Watson, T. Barnes, R. Pingree, J. Norman
Best Players: J. Watson, M. Lewis, J. Prosser, J. Marchbank, E. Macpherson, T. Barnes