Dragons, Hawks dominate semi-final showdowns
by Nathan Dole
SANDHURST and Eaglehawk dominated the weekend’s semi-finals in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football League’s senior footy action.
Week two of finals series was marked by blow-outs in the seniors, but some closely-fought contests in the reserves and under-18s.
A fired-up Sandhurst blitzed Kyneton in Sunday’s first semi-final.
With season hopes on the line it was Sandhurst which made a flying start.
The Dragons slammed on six goals to nil in the opening term as it set up plenty of attacks from midfield and across half-back.
Sandhurst led 6.3 (39) to 0.2 (2) at quarter-time.
The Tigers intensity and pressure did lift in what was an evenly fought second term.
By the long break Sandhurst led 66-21.
It was one-way traffic for most of the second half as Nick Stagg, Zeb Broadbent, Jake McLean and coach Andy Collins blitzed for the ‘Hurst.
Stung by a 112-point loss in the qualifying final, there was more pain for the Tigers as Sandhurst went on to win 24.9 (153) to 6.13 (49).
Stagg and Broadbent capped best afield performances with four goals apiece as Brodie Montague and Collins chipped in with three.
The Dragons had 10 goalkickers in a match where key defender Matt Thornton and Josh Hann also played pivotal roles.
Fintan Brazil led Kyneton’s attack on four goals.
The classy Rhys Magin was a stand-out for the yellow and black as Josh and Hamish Govan, Jayden Exell and Billy Mahony worked hard against the odds.
After a hard-fought elimination final and confidence-lifting semi, Sandhurst now tackles Strathfieldsaye in next Saturday’s preliminary final.
Strathfieldsaye Storm could not stop Eaglehawk’s final quarter onslaught in Saturday night’s second semi.
The Hawks had surged clear in the first and second terms, but each time Storm fought back brilliantly.
At three quarter-time, Eaglehawk led 9.6 (60) to 8.11 (59).
It was all Eaglehawk in the last as the Borough slammed on .3 to a goal.
Key forwards Shaun Knott and Sean Williams were in outstanding form as they finished with five and four goals respectively.
The Hawks had eight goalkickers in the 16.9 (105) to 9.11 (65) victory.
Hugh Robertson was Storm’s leading goalkicker on four as Brye Curnow and Bailey Henderson added two apiece.
Best afield honours went to Knott in a contest where Brodie Collins, Sean Williams, coach Josh Bowe, Ben McPhee and Oscar Madden all had a considerable impact.
Storm’s best were Bryce Curnow, Bailey Henderson, Kellan Smith, Shannon Geary, Hugh Robertson and Trent Donnan.
Defeated just twice in the regular season, Storm playing coach Troy Coates and the players face a huge challenge in their bid for back-to-back flags.
The round 13 match between Strathfieldsaye and Sandhurst at the QEO ended in a 46-point victory for the Dragons.
A memorable weekend for Eaglehawk was capped by a one-point victory in the reserves first semi-final against South Bendigo.
Goals were at a premium in the opening three quarters as the Bloods led 3.5 (23) to 2.9 (21) at a quarter to go.
The final term became a goal-fest as the Borough charged to a three-goal lead.
South Bendigo fought back brilliantly to be within a point when the final siren sounded.
An 8.13 (61) to 9.6 (60) result kept Eaglehawk in the premiership race.
Cody Green booted three goals for the Two Blues as Ben Conley added two.
The Bloods’ attack was led by Brad Wright, three goals, Cohen Balnaves and Jayden Sheean, two.
Best for the Borough were Cory Jacobs, Jake Dickens, Aiden Metcalf, Ricky Dudley, Sam Dean and Cody Green.
South Bendigo’s best were Ben Drechsler, Daniel Johnstone, Will Tobin, Sam Maher, Seb Wild and Jayden Sheean.
The Hawks will take on Sandhurst in the preliminary final.
Strathfieldsaye won its way to another reserves grand final after a 15-point victory against the Dragons on Saturday.
Storm led 45-18 at three quarter-time and withstood a spirited fightback to win 7.17 (59) to 6.8 (44).
Hunter Lawrence capped a best afield performance with two goals as Zebb Murrell, Torin Petrie, Connor Looney, James Blood and Jack Neylon played well for Storm.
Best for the Dragons were Seb Greene, Mitch Dole, Liam Ireland, Dylan Morris, Oscar Perez and James Smith.
Sandhurst won its most recent hit-out against Eaglehawk by three points.
The round 16 match on the Hawks’ turf at Canterbury Park ended in a 68-65 win by the Dragons.
Eaglehawk won the round seven match at the QEO by 24 points.
In the under-18s competition, Sandhurst knocked Kangaroo Flat out of the premiership race.
Led by the play of Ben Worme, Sean O’Farrell and Peter Coghlan, the Dragons won 10.13 (73) to 9.7 (61).
Sandhurst led 58-27 at three quarter-time, but the Roos bounced back to score five goals in the last term.
The Dragons leading goalkickers were Zac Featherby and James Vlaeminck on two.
Kangaroo Flat’s attack was led by Joel Fisher, Max Johnson and Darcy Poulter on two each.
Ethan Roberts, Lachlan Tranter, Kyle Symons and Mitchell Rovers played well for the Flat.
Gisborne showed it will be tough to beat for the premiership as the young Dogs scored a 29-point victory in the second semi-final against Strathfieldsaye.
Defences were on top in the first half as Gisborne led 2.3 to 1.1 at the long break.
Just four points separated the teams going into the final quarter.
Gisborne slammed on 4.3 to 0.2 in the last to seal an 8.9 (57) to 4.4 (28) victory.
Mitchell Blake and Ben Eales kicked two goals apiece for the Bulldogs.
Best for Gisborne were Adam Brancatisano, Flynn Lakey, Liam Spear and Jack Ozanne.
Strathfieldsaye’s best were Callum McCarty, Henry Bombardieri, Zach Charles and Daniel Clohesy.
In the regular season, Sandhurst beat and then lost to Strathfieldsaye.
Both times the margin was 24 points.
First semi-final scoreboard:
Seniors: Sandhurst 24.9 (153) d Kyneton 6.13 (49).
Reserves: Eaglehawk 8.13 (61) d South Bendigo 9.6 (60).
Under-18s: Sandhurst 10.13 (73) d Kangaroo Flat 9.7 (61).
Second semi-final scoreboard:
Seniors: Eaglehawk 16.9 (105) d Strathfieldsaye 9.11 (65).
Reserves: Strathfieldsaye 7.17 (59) d Sandhurst 6.8 (44).
Under-18s: Gisborne 8.9 (57) d Strathfieldsaye 4.4 (28).
Saturday’s preliminary finals at Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo:
Seniors at 2.20pm: Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst.
Reserves at 12.32pm: Sandhurst v Eaglehawk.
Under-18s at 10.45am: Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst.