Lower Plenty won a shootout against Thomastown in the battle of the Bears to secure its second big scalp in as many weeks at Montmorency Park South Oval.
On a beautiful and sunny first day of May, it was goal-for -goal in a first half that produced 22 majors, before Lower Plenty kicked away to win 21.15 (141) to 17.12 (114)
It was co-captain Darcy Barden leading from the front for Lower Plenty, kicking five goals, getting plenty of touches around the ground, and even playing in the ruck for most of the second half.
Tom Keys was again dominant in midfield, consistently getting clearances and keeping the scoreboard ticking over with three goals.
Liam Riley plucked some good marks and set up several goals, while also kicking three majors. Riley was one of 11 goal scorers for the winning team.
Josh Turner was prominent through midfield, consistently getting centre clearances, as well as kicking a goal.
There was a debut goal in the final quarter for Harvey Trippett, playing as 23rd Player, with his teammates getting around him.
Capping the victory, Corey Sleep took an absolute hanger in the fourth quarter to put himself in contention for mark of the year.
Thomastown had its good performers too, including star midfielder Tyrone Leonardis, who constantly looked threatening. Leonardis’ strength was on show, breaking tackles with ease when he had the ball in his hand, as well as applying good pressure.
In his second game for the club, Todd Hughes was threatening up forward. He booted four goals and provided a strong target and good pressure in Thomastown’s forward 50.
It was Thomastown who got the fast start, with Hughes kicking the first of the day courtesy of the first centre clearance through Leonardis.
Lower Plenty responded quickly to kick the next couple, before Thomastown kicked back with the next two. It was largely goal-for-goal from there, with Thomastown leading by seven points at the first break.
The goals continued to flow in the second quarter, with another 11 goals kicked in a free-flowing quarter where Lower Plenty managing to get it back to level pegging at half time, with the score 11.5 (71) apiece.
The home side broke the game open after the main break, booting five goals to one in the decisive third term, which included two to Darcy Barden.
Lower Plenty sealed the game early in the fourth with two lightning quick goals, which pushed the lead out to a game-high 38 points.
To Thomastown’s credit, it fought the game out to the siren and booted five of the last eight goals to cut the final deficit to 27 points.
Sadly, the highly entertaining match was soured by cruel injury blows to both sides.
Lower Plenty co-captain Laurie Naismith injured his knee and Matt Duckworth, who kicked two early goals, went down with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Lower Plenty coach Ben Turner said the club would await confirmation on both injuries.
Thomastown coach Mario Bandera confirmed returning youngster Michael Montesano injured his ACL again.
Final score: Lower Plenty 21.15 (141) def Thomastown 17.12 (114)
Goal Kickers: D. Barden 5, T. Keys 3, L. Riley 3, M. Duckworth 2, C. Sleep 2, T. Blake, J. Turner, H. Trippett, W. Barden, A. Alderton, A. White
Best Players: D. Barden, C. Sleep, J. Sacco, L. Riley, J. Leslie, T. Keys
Goal Kickers: T. Hughes 4, B. Nesci 3, M. Vasilevski 2, M. Fox 2, A. D’Angelo, T. Barrow, B. Plant, S. Ball, M. Tabacco, T. Leonardis
Best Players: T. Hughes, B. Plant, D. Caruso, A. D’Angelo, J. Carter, T. Leonardis