FOUR quick, emphatic goals in succession effectively buried North Ballarat Roosters yesterday.
All it took was a lapse, less than eight minutes long, for the Essendon-listed Bendigo to take control and set up a 26-point win at Eureka Stadium.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said it was a “fateful” eight-minute period.
His Roosters had lost their way for a bit.
It cost them a top-eight spot in the Victorian Football League.
“Just proves there’s not much margin for error,” FitzGerald said.
“We need to move forward and prepare for a trip to Melbourne to face Sandringham next week but that doesn’t mean we won’t take this game lightly.
“We’ll deal with the match but won’t spend time dwelling on it.
“Wins are just not handed to us – we have to work hard and win the tough games.”
The Selkirk Roosters had pieced together four consecutive wins leading into a clash with Bendigo. They had been building towards a big scalp.
Bendigo, ranked fifth, had to win to keep its footing.
The Roosters outnumbered Bendigo in inside-50s, 60-47.
Bendigo was more efficient.
Last week, North Ballarat went inside-50m less than Williamstown and was more efficient in a win.
There were passages of great Roosters’ play - quick clearances, sharp transition, precise delivery up forward.
Bendigo always had a similar reply in an otherwise even match.
While Bendigo jumped to an early lead, kicking with a slight win advantage in the first quarter, the Roosters tightened work at the stoppages and clawed the margin back to a straight kick by half-time.
Losing starting ruckman Ben Mabon late in the week hurt the Roosters, with developing ruck Sam Conroy and North Melbourne-listed forward Aaron Black in support against dominant Essendon-listed ruck Tom Bellchambers.
Bendigo’s Brendan Lee was tearing up the midfield but experienced Roosters’ midfielder Myles Sewell shut him down in the third quarter.
The Roosters were two goals down at the 21-minute mark of the third term and 39 points down at the final break.
Plenty of attention was on Essendon forward Scott Gumbleton in his continued return from injury but he was kept under close check by key Roosters defenders Michael Searl and Cam Delaney.
It was Bendigo’s smaller and medium forwards that dominated.
Bendigo’s Matthew Little headlined the charge, finishing with 6.1 from 13 disposals, but elevated Essendon rookie Cory Dell’Olio was also potent with 3.1 and nine marks.
FitzGerald was pleased with his team’s improved defensive work and resilience to grind out the last quarter but said, once again, the lapse proved his team needed to be at its best for longer and, when it was not, to chip away hard to win momentum back.
Bendigo 15.10 (100)
North Ballarat 11.8 (74)