Bombers tear Bulldogs apart

August 01, 2017

Lee Pollock of Leitchville Gunbower is chaired off the ground after his 150th game during the HDFNL seniors match between Leitchville Gunbower and North Bendigo. Photo by Luke Hemer.

Joel Donehue of Leitchville Gunbower tackles Lachlan Ford of North Bendigo during the HDFNL seniors match between Leitchville Gunbower and North Bendigo. Photo by Luke Hemer.

LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER’S premiership credentials were on full display on Saturday, dismantling previously undefeated North Bendigo by 50 points at Gunbower Recreation Reserve.

Looking to avenge a 68-point loss to the Bulldogs from round seven, the Bombers overcame a tense start to tear their opponents apart in the second half.

The result leaves the Heathcote and District Football League’s two power sides locked on 13 wins, the Bulldogs with a 12 per cent edge to remain on top of the ladder.

LG coach Matt Hawken was thrilled with his side’s ability to lift when the game was on the line.

‘‘With two goals each at half-time you thought six goals for the game might win it for either side,’’ he said.

‘‘Again we were able to run the game out strong, in the second half we got a lot of the football and broke the game open.’’

It was always going to take something special to knock off the 13-0 Bulldogs and LG delivered defensively to allow just two goals in three quarters to a team averaging more than 150 points a game in 2017.

The Bulldogs kicked both those goals in the first quarter, part of a brilliant start seeing them lead 13-2 at quarter-time having shut down the opposition attack.

But LG lifted and locked down in defence while scoring 2.4 (16) to take a slender three-point lead to the break after a nervous half of football.

‘‘It was a ferocious first quarter-and-a-half, but we held up to the physical play really well,’’ Hawken said.

‘‘Neither side was willing to give an inch. There was some off the ball stuff we weren’t too happy with, but we weren’t rattled when the last time we played them we were a bit intimidated.’’

But the Bombers sensed the occasion and found full-speed in the third quarter, piling on six goals to zero as the Bulldogs struggled to make any sort of play.

They led by 42 points at the final break, well poised for a statement win.

And while North Bendigo got back into the contest with the first three of the final term, LG was more than equal to the task with five of their own to take victory, 13.13 (91) to 6.5 (41). Hawken was full of praise for his side’s suffocating defence.

‘‘They kicked the first couple but we really defended exceptionally well after that,’’ he said.

‘‘Ryan Prendergast did a great job on Darcy Richards and Logan Prout and Shaun Turvey were fantastic.’’

A shake-up at the top of the HDFL, Hawken said the effort made up for the round four loss.

‘‘They’re a much better side at North Bendigo and we’re a much better side at Gunbower,’’ he said.

‘‘We felt we didn’t compete for four quarters and we just want the guys to compete.

‘‘We were much happier (on Saturday), we hung in tough and didn’t give up those four or five early goals.

‘‘North Bendigo came out with a purpose and we weathered the storm, it was a much stronger performance.’’

The game marked two milestones for LG, Lee Pollock’s 150th and Matt Perri’s 50th game for the club and both delivered performances to mark the occasion.

Pollock with a goal and named in the Bombers’ best, while Perri continued an outstanding season to boot five goals and move to 93 goals for the year.

‘‘Lee’s second half was terrific, he was well held early but we felt a lot of the reason we were able to get on top was (Michael) Pilcher and Pollock in the ruck,’’ Hawken said.

‘‘Perri was starved of opportunity early, he came out to the wing and got a few touches, but then he hit a purple patch which he can do. It was a top class performance.’’

LG will face White Hills on Saturday in a game it would expect to win well.

—Alex Mitchell

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