Bendigo FNLRichard Jones | Castlemaine caused the upset of the 2007-year when the Magpies broke Eaglehawk’s unbeaten run mid-season, 12 years back. A touch more than a decade ago the Camp Reserve Pies were a very different outfit compared with their 2017-18 combinations.

Brett Cole snagged five goals and Matt Peake four (three in the final quarter alone) as they surged clear of the Hawks after scores were tied midway through the tense last term. Six goals to the Two Blues big forward Damien Brown kept Eaglehawk in the contest but in the end they fell short by 22 points. In other Round 11 matches I reported on Kyneton’s 23-point victory over winless Kangaroo Flat at Dower Park while Sandhurst replaced Golden Square in third position following a 31-point success at the QEO. I was back writing weekly match reports for the Addy 12 years ago (and have continued, unbroken, ever since) and the mid-July report was one of my first since leaving match-day radio calls.

The Roos led at each of the quarter breaks out at Dower Park but were never able to shut down the Tigers’ key forwards, Brian Ruffell and Cameron Tate, in the second half. Ruffell (5) and Tate (4) contributed nine of Kyneton’s 13 goals with Ruffell nailing three in the third term and two in the last. Tate had been on-line with two majors to keep the Tigers in touch during the second term and then snagged another vital, last quarter six-pointer. The Roos suffered a severe blow when dominant ruckman Nick Lang --- who had been on top of Kyneton coach Brett Cook early on --- was stretchered off with concussion late in the opening stanza. And young Flat running players in Ryan McNish and Daniel Crowe, so dominant in the first three terms, had little more to give in the vital concluding term.

A last quarter goal off the boot of livewire mid Damian Liddell, from 35 metres out on the Tabaret flank, handed Kyneton the lead for the first time since the five-minute mark of the first term And Ruffell sealed the Tigers’ victory as he stood in a tackle and somehow got his boot to the ball to sneak home a major. Sandhurst staked their claim as a genuine BFNL premiership threat with a five-goal win over Golden Square at the QEO. It was the fifth, straight win for the Dragons with two wins over 2006 top three sides in Square and South in that run of victories.

Dragons’ coach Nathan Gilliland refused to get carried away with the win. “I feel there have been quite a few comments about Sandhurst being a side that will go for a quarter, or are good when they’re out in front. “We want to start getting respect as a side that is hard at it for four quarters,” the Hurst mentor said. “But you don’t gain respect from one game of footy so we have to keep going for the whole season,” said Gilliland. Advertiser scribes reminded footy readers that three weeks earlier --- at the of June 2007 --- they’d labelled Square as “pretenders” following a 41-point loss to Gisborne at the Graveyard. “The loss to the Hurst did nothing to suggest otherwise, particularly considering the game was played at the home of the BFL finals,” the report stated.

The Dragons nailed five goals to one in the vital final quarter as Simon Weekley (5 majors), Seamus Young (4) and Mark Fitzgerald (4) dominated the Square backline. The last term surge came with the Hurst ahead by just five points at three-quarter time with Square charging on the back of the last three goals of the third quarter. The eventual 31-point victory elevated Sandhurst to third spot on the BFL senior ladder and handed the home team the Reg Ford Shield in just their sixth win over old rivals Square in the last 18 encounters. The Dragons had to fight back from behind when Square playing coach Jeff Brennand had kicked the first major of the final term. That put the Bulldogs ahead by a point. Then, enter Fitzgerald and Weekley.

Fitzgerald nailed two goals, the first with a clever snap at the four-minute mark. He landed another with Weekley adding a pair as well. The Hurst logged 16 inside-50s to Square’s six in the final stanza. For the Square Leigh Davies kicked three goals, including two in the third term, with mids Luke Rosa and Jason Griffin prominent along with half-backs James Walsh and Clayton Anderson. Matt Keown dominated at centre half-back for Sandhurst while Mal Borchard held Square’s Hall of Famer Matt ‘Tooley’ O’Toole to just a single goal. But the standout performance of that five-match round was Castlemaine’s upset of the season over previously unbeaten Eaglehawk.

The Magpies’ win was the best playing coach Ian Martin had been involved with in his season-and-half in charge at the Camp Reserve. “The game was a lot about belief and our belief that we could beat Eaglehawk,” the coach said. “During the past month we’ve been in with a chance to win several times, but probably lacked the belief and confidence we could win.” The Magpies were under the pump with scores level at 76-76 halfway through the final quarter. Then the home side stood up. A fine left-foot snap from Matt Peake (his third goal of the quarter) was followed by the Pies winning the subsequent centre ball-up.

They won that with spearhead Daniel Christmas on the end of a pass to mark and goal. The game was effectively over when Brett Cole’s excellent tackle was rewarded with a free. He went back and drilled his fifth major for the day. Big full-forward Damien Brown booted six of Eaglehawk’s 11 goals but only Nick Heath (2) could offer much support. Backman Chris Belz and young gun Brodie Filo were also prominent with Filo’s late third term major slashing the deficit to one, straight kick: 8.9 to 9.9. Shannon Milward was Eaglehawk’s best on the day with Brown, Luke Button and first-gamer Corey Gregg in the Hawks’ best. Adrian Conn, tap ruckman Luke Walters, Trevor Bell and key defender Damien Cassidy were others in Castlemaine’s best.

Final scores: Kyneton 13.9 (87) def. Kang. Flat 9.10 (64), Gisborne 18.17 (125) def. North City 8.2 (50), South Bendigo 16.14 (110) def. M’borough 12.6 (78), Castlemaine 14.14 (98) def. Eaglehawk 11.10 (76) and Sandhurst 16.10 (106) def. G. Square 10.15 (75). Top Five: Gisborne 10 wins, 1 loss, 220%, 40 points; Eaglehawk 10-1, 164.5%, 40; Sandhurst 8-3, 32; Golden Square 7-4, 139%, 28 and South Bendigo 7-4, 128%, 28.

In the A grade netball unbeaten Sandhurst sat atop the ladder following a 48-37 win over fourth-placed Square. Although the Square won all their other three matches against the Hurst they couldn’t win the big one. Maryborough won by 21 over South with Andrea Heenan and Cindy Cossar best for the Pies and Anne-Louise Chilver South’s best, while at Austar Arena in North Ballarat Gisborne thrashed North City by 45. Goalkeeper Paige Rymer was best for the Dogs with centre Lucy Vallance the Northies’ best.

Final scores: Kang. Flat 56 def. Kyneton 25, Maryborough 50 def. South Bendigo 29, Gisborne 65 def. North City 20, E’hawk 82 def. Castlemaine 14 and S’hurst 48 def. G. Square 37. Top Five: Sandhurst 11-0, 44 points; Eaglehawk 9-2, 36; Maryborough 8-2, 1 draw, 34; G. Square 8-3, 32 and Gisborne 6-4, 1 draw, 26.