Bacchus Marsh 14.20 (104) d Lake Wendouree 11.6 (72)
Bacchus Marsh is on course for back-to-back Ballarat Football League premierships.
However, the Cobras’ inner sanctum is a long way from any such talk – even after inflicting Lake Wendouree’s first defeat of the season at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
Bacchus Marsh took the finals-like encounter away from Lakers with a seven-goal last quarter for a 32-point win.
This creates a bottleneck at the top of the ladder, with Darley, Bacchus Marsh and Lake Wendouree each with one loss.
Although there was a lot to like about the Cobras, coach Travis Hodgson is far from happy with repeated third quarter lapses.
Bacchus Marsh led by 22 points at half-time, but was dominated by Lakers after the break as the visitors added 5.0 to 0.6.
Hodgson said the only consolation was that the Cobras had more scoring shots and the match review would focus almost exclusively on the unwanted third term trend.
He said it was all the more puzzling as to why it was happening given the strong finishes they were producing.
Each made surges early.
Midfielder Nick Peters led from the front and strong-marking key forwards Jack Elkington (five goals) and Lucas Anderson (four goals) provided the polish with the first seven goals.
For Bacchus Marsh, ruckman Dean Heta excelled around the ground in the absence of Daniel Burton, who was replaced in the selected line-up by Lachie Phyland in for his first game of the year, with Tyson Shea and Scott Sherlock all over the ball at ground level.
Lake Wendouree was not helped late by reduced rotations caused by the loss of dangerous forward Nathan Pring (hamstring) in the first quarter, key defender Ben Hayes (knee) in the second and Luke Bucknall (ankle) in the third.
However, coach Tim Malone was not looking for excuses post-match. “They out-pressured us.”
He said while the third quarter showed what Lakers were capable of by pushing long and deep into attack, an inability to match Bacchus Marsh’s pressure on the man and ball had seen them come up short.
It was late when the likes of Declan Phyland (four goals) and the persistence of youngster Billy Griffiths (three goals) were able to keep going that Lakers lost touch.
Ryley Stuhldreier was out of the game early for the Cobras with hamstring soreness.
Redan 17.15 (117) d Melton South 10.7 (67)
Redan provided the response it needed to deliver and at the same time added to Melton South’s woes in the Ballarat Football League at the City Oval on Saturday.
Each needed to win on the back of disappoints, but it was Redan which proved the superior – by 50 points.
Not even the inclusion of proven goalkicker Jonathan Kent from Lancefield in the Riddell District league was enough to give the Panthers the boost they needed.
Kent, who was cleared after a fourth transfer application, was impressive with six goals, but Melton South lacked the punch overall to match the Lions.
Redan ended a run a of two losses, but Melton South has now won just once in its past five games and a long way from being the premiership contender it hoped to be.
Redan got the jump and never looked back before putting the foot down in the final term.
Mitch Phelps was instrumental in the win with six goals in just his second senior appearance this year.
A former Lions best and fairest, he played with Buninyong in the CHFL last season and spent the early part of this year overseas. Phelps was called up after just one reserves game.
Redan coach Brendan Peace said it was just a matter of getting back to basics for his side.
“We tried to simplify the game. We just got back to doing the little things, simplify the role of a forward and just get him to bring the ball to ground if he couldn’t mark it.
“We gave our players simple jobs to do and they were able to execute it,” he said.
Melton South joint coach Sean Triplett lamented a poor first half, saying “we were out-played for the first half, I thought they were a lot cleaner than us.
“Our field kicking and decision-making were ordinary at times, but I think we were just out-played.
“The players get frustrated because at the end of the day we were just out-classed by a better side.
“It puts us back in the pack,” he said.
“Redan did their homework and our main players just were not as damaging as they usually would be.”
Nathan Horbury was again a class factor for Redan as he directed traffic along with the experienced Chris. Giampaolo.
Pat Fitzgibbon grabbed his opportunity and continued his improvement with young tall Ben Smyth.
Nick Willox is proving a real asset up forward for the Lions, kicking four goals.
Redan and Melton South are now tied up with Sunbury in the bottom half of the top six.
Melton 10.8 (68) d North Ballarat City 8.15 (63)
Melton ended a long run of outs against North Ballarat City in the BFL at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
The Bloods fought their way back from 21 points down at half-time to sneak home by five.
Coach Brad Murphy said no one in the Bloods’ camp could remember beating City since it joined the competition in 2008 – adding even more satisfaction to the effort.
Although still with a lot of work to do, Melton now suddenly finds itself seventh within striking distance of the top six and plenty to play for.
Murphy said a reshuffled forward line made all the difference in the second half, with him choosing to go tall with Kurt Baker, Ryan Carter and Gus Grigg.
He said this gave the Bloods a decisive edge, which was capitalised on by the likes of Braedan Kight (five goals).
City coach Jordyn Burke was extremely disappointed that it had lost grip after getting into a winning position.
This leaves North City with just one win and any hope of playing finals all but gone.
Defeat was not the only bad news for North City, with Will Young injuring an ankle early in his return match and Joe Symons facing the possibility of a knee reconstruction and a year out of the game after damaging an anterior cruciate ligament.
Burke said Symons was waiting for scans to discover how much damage had been done.
Melton lost Daniel Walker with hamstring soreness in the first quarter – this after losing Jack Walker and Brock McGregor from its selected side.
He will get two weeks to recover with the Bloods have a week off after playing their round nine game against Melton South as a stand alone season opener.
Sunbury 20.4 (124) d Ballarat 11.10 (76)
Sunbury made full use of a tearaway start to down Ballarat by 48 points and jump to fourth in the BFL at Alfredton on Saturday.
The Lions appeared to have their back to wall after losing a substantial part of their grand final line-up, but under new coach Ben Jordan have steadily been building and have an opportunity to play finals again.
With the Swans struggling to find their way, Sunbury led by 39 points at half-time and that proved more than enough.
While inside 50s were shared evenly and Ballarat had plenty of the football by the end of the day, Sunbury proved much more efficient – making the most of its chances in attack as 20.4 indicated.
Ben Said typified the Lions’ effective approach, kicking six goals.
The experience of Gregory Hay, David Kovacevic, Andrew Duhau and Alik Magin was also influential in Sunbury making it three wins in a row.
For the Swans, better use of the football remains the focus for improvement.
East Point 21.17 (143) d Sebastopol 11.12 (78)
Coach Jakes Bridges is naturally pleased East Point has found winning form after a slow start to the BFL season.
The Kangaroos made it three wins in their past four games by cruising home against Sebastopol by 65 points at Eastern Oval on Saturday.
As big as the margin was, what gave Bridges the most satisfaction was the way East Point played.
The first-year coach is focusing on embedding his brand on a young group and this game was another step forward ahead of a clash with reigning premier Bacchus Marsh.
Seven goals in the opening term allowed East Point to make the match its own, although Sebastopol also stuck to its structures and was rewarded with a strong five-goal last quarter.
Teenage tall Dallas Martin made his senior debut for the Roos, while in keeping with a youth theme midfielder Mickitja Rotumah-Onus again impressed, and Jake McQueen was again on target with five goals.