benflANTICIPATION was huge as Round 2 loomed seven years ago. Unbeaten Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square were listed to play under lights at Dower Park with full-forwards Justin Maddern and Grant Weeks the star attractions.

The Bulldogs had smashed South Bendigo by 86 points in the re-match of the 2009 grand final with Weeks booting nine, while the Roos had disposed of Gisborne as Maddern nailed eight goals in the opening quarter.

The Flat eventually downed the Gardiner Reserve Dogs by 45 points although Maddern added just two more majors after quarter time for a match total of 10.

It was a nightmare debut for Gissy recruit Lachlan Testro who watched on helplessly in the opening half-hour as Maddern’s shots sailed through the big sticks.

The heat was building on coaches as the mid-April round came along with Sandhurst’s Kieran Nihill and Castlemaine’s Paul Eyles hoping for improved performances.

The Dragons and the Magpies both lost by a single kick in round 1 --– the Hurst to Maryborough by four points at the QEO and the Maine to Kyneton by three points, after leading by close to six goals midway through the third term.

“Anything less than a win this week against Strathfieldsaye would be extremely disappointing,” Nihill told the Advertiser.
“We’ve got tough games coming up against Eaglehawk and Square, plus a testing road trip to Kyneton, so obviously we don’t want to start the season 0-5.”
Eyles said much the same as Nihill. “We clearly have to improve on that first round performance and that’s what we’re going to try to do each week,” he said.
“We’re treating the Maryborough game at Hedges Oval like a final so it’s going to be game on,” said Eyles.
The Maine had two significant inclusions for Rd. 2 with big men Daniel Christmas and Luke Walters back in the side.

SO what happened as the curtain came down on Round 2?
Well I was out at Dower Park for the twilight game and it was pretty much a fizzer.
The Square held the Roos goalless in the opening half with the home side down by a massive 56 points by the long break: 0.6 to 9.8.
The Bulldogs’ win was made even more meritorious considering Jack Geary and Luke Hammond were injured early restricting coach Nick Carter to very few interchange options from the bench.
But Carter played his ace card right from the first bounce. Even though top defender Chris Malone was a late withdrawal, Carter directed hard-nut midfielder Nathan Bell to drop into the hole directly in front of Madden.
This meant the big full-forward was effectively double-teamed while Bell’s defensive smarts and pinpoint disposal set up many rebounding attacks for the Square.
He also took the mark-of-the-night in the scoreboard’s end goalmouth using a teammate’s back as a platform to clutch a ‘hanger’.
Geary showed the sort of commitment Square brought to the contest. He threw himself at a loose ball, and even though collected hard and injured as he did so, still managed to soccer the ball to Weeks for the forward’s third goal.
Flat’s second half revival of 7.9 (with Maddern and current Storm coach Shannon Geary each adding three goals) was far too little, too late. The Square added 9.11 with current Strath Storm co-coach Bryce Curnow contributing a pair of majors.
Dogs’ midfielders Josh Baird, Mark Lloyd and the Bairds --- Josh and Adam --- were fed by big man James Bristow all evening, a fact remarked on by Flat coach Murray Collins who said the Square “capitalised just about every time our mids and defenders turned the ball over.”

EAGLEHAWK ended Gisborne’s ten-year hoodoo grip over them with their 59-point win the first for the Hawks at the Graveyard since 2000.
For almost three quarter the Ty Elliott-coached Dogs held the margin between the two clubs at two to three goals.
Then the Hawks seized control late in the third term, with Matt Gretgrix and Brady Herdman landing important goals, to edge away to a 31-point three-quarter time lead.
With a trio of on-ballers in Josh Bowe, Kain Robins and Troy Coates showing the way, Eaglehawk banged home 8.2 to 3.4 to score a morale-boosting victory.
And Maryborough made it two from two with a 64-point thumping of Castlemaine.
Twelve goals to two after the main break sealed the Princes Park Pies spot in the Top Three and improved their percentage to 150.
Maryborough nearly blew its chances with a wasteful 3.9 in the opening term to the Maine’s 1.1 but blasted home five straight goals next time it had the wind advantage.
Coach Shane Fisher said Maryborough had “blazed away” in the first quarter but controlled the footy much better in the second half.
“Plus we didn’t run out of legs like we did against Sandhurst in the last quarter last week.” Matt Brown booted six goals for the Borough.
South Bendigo soaked up Kyneton’s first half pressure and then rebounded strongly in the second half at the Showgrounds.
Midfield general Steven Stroobants and Dayne Frew both landed four goals, with Jackson Ireland and small forward Alex Galea also contributing four, as well. Sixteen goals between four players.
Kyneton coach Paul Houston was delighted with the form of midfielders Michael Turner and Rob Trajkovski but disappointed the final margin blew out to 10 goals.
In a high-scoring encounter the Bloods added 16 goals to nine in the closing half.

IN THE Sunday game at Tannery Lane the Dragons got onto the 2010 winners’ list with an all-the-way 38-point victory over the Strathfieldsaye Storm.
It was just the second season in the BFNL for the Storm with both clubs having to cope with a tricky, across-the-oval breeze.
Hurst got the early jump as Michael Cornish, Lee Coghlan and Matt Stagg (all ‘ins’ for Rd. 2) goaled in the opening 10 minutes.
The home side bounced back as the quarter entered red time nailing three of the last first stanza goals --- including two in the concluding three minutes.
Then the Dragons made their match-winning move. They booted 6.1 to 0.1 from the seventh to the 21st minute mark of the second term.
Again the Storm finished the quarter strongly as Lachlan Sharp and Kris Lea added majors to cut the margin to a touch over six goals by half-time.
Strathfieldsaye could have been closer had shots from inside 20m from Ryan Eastman, Michael Pilcher and ruckman Cameron Ross been on target.
The Storm closed the gap to 26 points eight minutes into the last term but the Dragons had the answers.
For Strathfieldsaye Brenton Hall restricted the dangerous Simon Weekley to just one goal while Lea finished with four majors. Cameron Hall was the Storm’s leading on-baller around the stoppages.
Hurst defenders Tom Hartney, Jack Kennedy and Nihill rebounded strongly while mids Lee Coghlan (three goals), Blair Holmes and wingmen Lachie Watts and Tom Summerhayes (2 goals) were in their best.

Final scores: Maryborough 17.13 (115) def. C’maine 7.9 (51), Sandhurst 20.13 (133) def. S’saye 14.11 (95), G. Square 18.19 (127) def. Kang. Flat 7.13 (55), South Bendigo 25.14 (164) def. Kyneton 16.8 (104) and Eaglehawk 23.16 (154) def. Gisborne 14.11 (95).
Top Five: G. Square 2-0, Eaglehawk 2-0, Maryborough 2-0, Sandhurst 1-1, South Bendigo 1-1. Goalkickers: Grant Weeks (GS) 14, Jimmy Condos (Kyn) 13, Justin Maddern (KF) 13, Matt Gretgrix (Eh) 12.
In the netball Golden Square fought back from a deficit of two goals early in the final quarter to down Kangaroo Flat by two: 27-25.
The Roos had led at half-time but couldn’t hang on.
Sandhurst scored a big Sunday win over Strathfieldsaye at the Tannery Lane courts: 58-21.
The Maroons had raced out to a commanding 29-7 advantage by the long break.

Other final scores: Eaglehawk 33 def. Gisborne 30, Maryborough 59 def. C’maine 33. Only nine clubs in A grade netball, 2010. Top Five: Sandhurst 2-0, G. Square 2-0, Eaglehawk 2-0, Maryborough 1-1 and Gisborne 1-1.
Richard’s selections for Round 2, 2017: Kyneton, Eaglehawk, Gisborne, Strath Storm and Sandhurst.

By Richard Jones