Gisborne two games clear on top: mid-2002
By Richard Jones
The Gisborne Bulldogs headed the BFNL senior ladder by two clear games in mid-season 2002.
The Graveyard Dogs had just thrashed the other Bulldogs from Wade Street by 87 points which wiped out the pre-match billing of a Gisborne-Square ‘blockbuster’.
Although the Square looked good at the Graveyard early on.
They had six goals on the scoreboard to Gizzy’s two in the opening 20 minutes.
But then the home side switched on and nailed four goals as the quarter wound down, followed by a further 20 majors to Square’s seven after the first break.
The ‘Action Attraction’ Steven Reaper booted nine goals in Gisborne’s big win.
In other matches 18 years ago Eaglehawk belted South by 51 points and Sandhurst held Maryborough to a pitiful three majors in an eight-goal victory.
Nevertheless the BFNL competition was handed a lifeline with Kyneton recording its first win of the 2002 season. The Tigers downed Castlemaine by 44 points.
Kyneton had received a timely boost to its player stocks with Bendigo Diggers VFL trio Simon Elsum, Sam Young and Daniel van den Ham available for Tiger selection.
Young booted four goals even though Tigers skipper Wayne Eve went two better. Eve nailed six six-pointers.
New Kyneton coach ‘Fabulous’ Phil Carman was delighted with his first win at the Kyneton Showgrounds.
“It was a fantastic day for the club and just reward for all the work the boys have put in over the past few months,” Carman told the Bendigo Advertiser.
The Tiger mentor said bringing in three quality players had made a huge difference to Kyneton.
“Elsum maybe didn’t do all that much, but his experience out on the ground and his overall leadership just made everyone else walk a bit taller,” the new coach said.
And in only his second game back after recovering from a hernia operation club captain Eve returned to his brilliant best.
Best afield was mid Brent Dryden who chipped in with two valuable majors to cap off a polished display.
Van den Ham was also a solid contributor for the Tigers along with Xavier Keighran and Declan Neale.
The only sour taste for Kyneton came with the report of hard-running on-baller Michael ‘Mobbsy’ O’Brien who had to face a charge of allegedly using abusive language.
The victory handed Kyneton the Central Highlands Cup for 2002.
Steven ‘Ollie’ Oliver booted three of Castlemaine’s 10 goals with Paul Eyles (later to coach the Magpies) bobbing up with a pair.
Massive ruckman Mark ‘The Ox’ Oxley, who subsequently left the Camp Reserve to play in the MCDFL, was Maine’s best with the loss leaving Castlemaine just hanging on to its Final Five hopes.
Victory would have put the Magpies only one game off second place but the loss tumbled then down to seventh with a three win-five loss record and a percentage gap of more than 16 per cent behind South Bendigo (5th).
Gisborne’s running brigade swamped Square from the 21-minute mark of the opening quarter.
Dual Michelsen Medallist and on-baller Matt Fitzgerald ended up as best afield with evergreen support mid Ollie Messaoudi also prominent.
Ollie shut down Golden Square threatening mid Matt Dillon, now a successful premiership coach with North Bendigo.
With Shane ‘Dog’ Davis getting on top of reliable defender Dillon Anderson, ‘Revenue’ Reaper was reliably fed all match by his dominant midfielders.
Anderson ended a bad day for him when he had his number taken by goal umpire Kevin Monk for allegedly striking Gizzy’s Aaron Christensen.
The Gardiner Reserve devotees, who still regularly pack themselves into the Graveyard, were delighted with their first look at Diggers’ VFL wingman Ty Elliott.
Against his old side Elliott’s speed and penetrating kicking caused huge headaches for the Origin Oval Dogs.
Skipper Darren Walsh tried desperately to lift the Square but found close-checking opponent Matt Cannard difficult to shake off.
Paul Sharkey was the top forward on the Gardiner Reserve for the first quarter-and-a-half but a combination of full-back Dave Power and limited opportunities later in the contest severely limited Sharkey’s overall impact.
Post-match Walsh said his side was “really struggling at the moment in our midfield.”
“We showed we could match it with Gisborne for a certain time, but to beat a side of that quality you need to play four, consistent quarters of football.”
A nine-goal second quarter blitz was the highlight of Eaglehawk’s convincing win over South Bendigo at Canterbury Park.
After the Bloods had led by nine points at the first change the Hawks took charge with first gamer Linton Jacobs booting four goals.
A six-goal haul from South’s David McCormick was not sufficient for South to be able to snatch the four, premiership points.
Those nine straight second term majors to South’s 1.6 proved to be the turning point of the game.
Michelsen Medallist Lucas Mathews dominated play across the midfield and into the forward line for the Two Blues while the long kicking and pace of former Geelong and Freo AFL wingman Andrew Wills was a match highlight.
One major from well outside the 50m arc from Wills’ boot had the parochial pro-Hawk crowd roaring.
Eaglehawk had no less than a dozen individual goal-kickers with Ryan Pedrotti and Madden both finishing with three goals.
Wills and Scott Langan speared home two majors each while South’s tough defender Julian Lake was best for his club.
Sandhurst jumped up to fourth ladder spot after handing the slippery QEO conditions much better than Maryborough.
The 2001 minor premiers landed 24 scoring shots to the Magpies miserable 11 and restricted Maryborough to just 2.5 for three, full quarters.
The Dragons’ defence held the side together. Wayne Mitrovic was impassable across half-back while Kieran Nihill added great run from the first line of defence.
Toby Cardrew booted five goals with the Sexton brothers, Matt and Ben, contributing two more apiece.
It took a sensational ‘long bomb’ from Maryborough star Jamie Bond to register the visitors’ first goal --- and that didn’t come until the second term was well under way.
Bond had gathered the ball deep in the city end’s scoreboard pocket and banged the ball home, straight through the big sticks.
Minutes later, Cardrew hauled in a sensational mark over two Borough defenders. He went back and split the tall timber with a shot from outside 50 on the boundary line, Barnard Street end.
Marc Cassidy eventually managed to boot Maryborough’s second major late into the second stanza but that only managed to cut the visitors’ deficit to 20 points as half-time loomed.
Against his old side Rick Andrews controlled the midfield for the Hurst for the entire second half with Ben Sexton banging home his second goal after he’d roved a pack.
The Dragons were cruising holding onto a 40-point lead with Maryborough unable to land a goal at the Barnard Street end.
The Magpies finished the day with just one point in total in its two quarters at the northern end with coach Anthony O’Shea unable to hide his bitter disappointment as the final siren sounded.
“There are no positives to come out of this match,” he told the Addy.
Dragons’ coach Mark Ellis was more upbeat saying he was pleased with the pressure his players had put on their Magpie opponents.
“But we need to improve our delivery into the forward line if we hope to turn into a genuine premiership contender. On occasions today we were found wanting,” Ellis said.
Final scores: Gisborne 26.14 (170) def. G. Square 13.5 (83), Sandhurst 10.14 (74) def. M’borough 3.8 (26), Kyneton 16.17 (113) def. C’maine 10.9 (69) and Eaglehawk 21.14 (140) def. South Bendigo 13.11 (89). Kangaroo Flat: bye.
There was no Strath Storm 18 seasons ago.