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Bungaree 18.7 (115) d Gordon 14.10 (94)
By David Bilbrough
BUNGAREE’S multi-pronged forward line proved the difference in its 21-point defeat of Gordon on Saturday.
Twin peaks Luke Mirtschin and Christian Elliott bagged six goals apiece and will have defenders reaching for the aspirin if the weekend’s performance is any guide.
Winning coach Heath Pyke was pleased with the forward set-up in what proved the Demons’ fourth-straight round one success over the Eagles.
“Elliott is a great pick-up for us from Spotswood, while Shaun Finlayson is good for us structurally,” he said.
Mirtschin was his mercurial self, opening the scoring for the visitors after out-marking two opponents and was more than a handful all day for the Eagles backmen.
Mitchell Bowman, earmarked as a defender, stamped his authority in the forward line with three goals in his first game in over 12 months since breaking his ankle in the 2015 pre-season.
The Demons also welcomed the return of Marty Dufty, who starred in defence, while 2014 premiership ruckman Dave Benson's deft taps gave the likes of Chase Morgan and Scott Mann first use of the footy.
Despite some lapses throughout the game, Pyke was pleased with the four-quarter effort.
“We controlled the game for the most part and are very happy to grind out a win against last year’s runner-up,” he said.
The only blemish for the Demons was an ankle injury to 2014 premiership defender Mitch Bruns, who left the field limping badly at the 10-minute mark of the first term.
Gordon matched its opponent for scoring shots, but bouts of inaccuracy cost the home side dearly.
New Eagles key forward Brendan Sutcliffe booted the first major of the match on his way to four goals.
Tye Murphy also booted three, including two from long range late in the third term to drag the margin back to 25 points at the final change.
Steve Nicholson then threaded the needle, which brought cheers of hope from Eagles fans before Bungaree sharp-shooter Elliott sent through his sixth to snuff out the late revival.
Ballan 15.10 (100) d Creswick 9.6 (60)
By Tim O'Connor
BALLAN banged through eight goals in the opening quarter of the season on its way to a 40-point victory against Creswick.
New Blues coach Justin McConnell said his team let the scoreboard dictate its effort after the first break, but paid credit to Creswick, which allowed the first-term margin to extend by just three points by the final siren.
McConnell, who kicked four goals, said midfielders Darren Tanti, Luke Souter and Jason McNamara were good, as was ruckman Scott Atkinson and forward Aaron Speak.
Creswick named Sam Ayre as its best, while Liam Hepworth and Jye Cartledge kicked two majors each.
Hepburn 32.13 (205) d Clunes 7.3 (45)
By Tim O'Connor
HEPBURN put the foot down after half time to thump Clunes in a perfect start for new coach Jason Olver.
The Burras were challenged early by a Magpies outfit under the guidance of Dale Cowell for the first time, but eventually kicked clear to record a 160-point thrashing.
Clunes managed five of its seven goals in the first half, before the visitors steered through 21 of its own in the third and fourths terms.
The McKay brothers kicked 16 goals between them, with Andy and Brad booting six each and Mitch four.
Dan O’Halloran was one of Hepburn’s best, while Matthew Wrigley (three goals) and Khyal Thompson were good for Clunes.
Buninyong 11.17 (83) d Learmonth 6.10 (46)
By Scot Nicholson
BUNINYONG’S defence forced Learmonth into several basic errors throughout the opening-round encounter and key signing Matt Caris took advantage of enough of them to give the Bombers a win on Saturday.
Both sides struggled to play with consistency in the early stages of the game and a scrappy contest ensued that saw both sides heading into half time with only two goals apiece.
Caris was instrumental in the midfield as he provided plenty of opportunities for his teammates to construct a five-goal third-quarter onslaught and hold on for an 11.17 (83) to 6.10 (46) victory over the developing Lakies.
Buninyong joint-coach Jarrod Morgan said that an array of positive signs were visible in the first game of the 2016 Central Highlands Football League season.
“There were six guys playing their first game for us today and we understand that it will probably take some time to gel and play the exact way that we want to, but it was good to get the four points first up,” Morgan said.
“Regardless of the scoreboard result, it was obvious that we didn’t do a lot of the things we’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks, but in saying that, there are plenty of pleasing signs emerging.”
Key acquisition for the Bombers Liam Rigby went into the ruck and dominated every centre bounce with outstanding tap-outs.
Joel Ottavi was an integral forward target as he booted four majors, while Sam Turner assisted the offence with two goals.
Learmonth coach Brenton Powell said his team must work harder to remain consistent for an entire match.
“For three quarters we were pretty disappointing and then we fell away in the premiership quarter to let Buninyong win, which was the difference in the end.” Powell said.
“To the credit of the opposition, they were really good at putting defensive pressure on us all over the field, tackled furiously and exposed some of our flaws.”
Learmonth’s Brodrick Campbell and Ryan Barnes starred up forward with three and two goals respectively.
Buninyong will come up against Daylesford next weekend, while Learmonth can bounce back to form with a trip to face Hepburn.
Beaufort 13.13 (91) d Daylesford 5.9 (39)
By Louis Gillett
BEAUFORT kicked off what could be a momentous 2016 Central Highlands Football League season in style, brushing aside Daylesford by 52 points on Saturday.
The high-flying Crows barely broke a sweat in the demolition job at Beaufort, despite a spirited late fightback from the Bulldogs.
Their win also spells a disappointing start for new Daylesford coach Marcus Goonan, who took the reigns at the end of last year’s poor campaign.
The Crows, expected by many to mount a serious tilt at this season’s premiership, took a while to fire up in the first stanza, yet still led at quarter time thanks to majors from Lachlan Murray and Tim Haase.
Then, with some stern words from head coach Dale Power as motivation, the Crows put on a second-quarter masterclass, showing why they are touted as one of this year’s teams to watch.
Lachlan Pfeifer, Alexander Petrie and Joe Mason were in scintillating form as Beaufort extended the lead by half time to 33 points, an amount that would prove to be insurmountable for Goonan’s Bulldogs.
Murray, Haase, Daniel Ross-Smith and Brendan Howard were also superb, while defender Zac Marrow put in an industrious shift at the back.
By the final break, the Crows were over the hills and far away with an emphatic 53-point lead, however, Goonan managed to rally his side to put on a convincing final-quarter performance and earn some consolation.
The Bulldogs surpassed Beaufort in key statistics across the board and the showing proved to Goonan that his side could still play a dominant brand of football in 2016.
“I think we just dropped off mid-way through the second quarter and we didn’t recover from there,” Goonan said post-match.
“We just butchered the ball in general, we couldn’t pick it up off the deck and that really gifted them a few goals, I thought.
“All-in-all, we were around the mark, but we’ve got a lot to improve on.”
Jordan Alexander, Patrick Rowe and Sebastian Walsh were of excellent service to the defeated Bulldogs, while Tom Thurwood established himself with two goals.
Daylesford now prepares for a difficult away trip to league heavyweights Buninyong, which comes before another tough encounter against arch-rivals Hepburn, in what will be the club’s first home fixture of the year.
Meanwhile, Beaufort is already planning for its huge clash against Springbank next weekend.
Springbank 14.16 (100) d Dunnstown 7.7 (49)
By John McGregor
SPRINGBANK came home all guns blazing against a Dunnstown side which lacked forward firepower.
The 51-point win on Saturday came after a dull first half, but a torrid finish by the reigning premiers.
The Tigers had many replacement players covering the absence of key figures from last year's premiership side.
A last-minute clearance saw one of these replacements - young North Ballarat City star Tyler George - take his place in the team.
George hit the ground running and showed pace and smarts around goals, where he kicked two majors.
The Towners had an advantage in the ruck with Mark Stewart towering over Tiger Mitchell Keighrey, but they failed to capitalise.
Dunnstown had a sniff of success in the first half when it blocked and frustrated Springbank in a low-scoring arm wrestle.
But after limiting the Tigers to a miserly nine-point lead at half time, the Towners found themselves outpaced and outscored.
Springbank’s goal-kicking wizard Paul McMahon slotted three majors in the third term and another in the last for a total of five for the day.
After the game, Tigers joint-coach Michael Searl was upbeat about the club’s new recruits, especially George.
Newlyn 23.13 (151) d Smythesdale 5.8 (38)
By Tim O'Connor
SMYTHESDALE kicked its biggest total since mid-2013, but it wasn’t enough to push a new-look Newlyn on Saturday.
The Bulldogs kicked 5.8 (38) to better their 7.3 (45) from round eight three seasons ago when known as Illabarook, but they still went down by 113 points against the Cats.
Newlyn forward Will Young booted nine majors to shoot straight to the top of the league goal-kicking chart, while former Ballarat Miners player Sean Massey managed four in his first match since switching to football from basketball.
Nathan Skewes was named best for the Cats, while Smythesdale ruckman Rylan Rattley led the way for the beaten brigade.
Rokewood-Corindhap 12.21 (93) d Skipton 8.10 (58)
By Tim O'Connor
ROKEWOOD-CORINDHAP had to fight, but eventually got the spoils in a battle with old rivals Skipton.
The Grasshoppers trailed the Emus at half time, but produced the better football after the main break to score a 35-point win on enemy territory.
Rokewood-Corindhap was wasteful in front of the sticks, with its 33 scoring shots returning 12.21 (93).
Brendan Wall was named best for the winners.
Waubra 12.16 (88) d Carngham-Linton 3.6 (24)
By Tim O'Connor
MIDFIELDER Tom Nijam starred in Waubra’s 64-point triumph over Carngham-Linton.
Roos coach Grant Luscombe said Nijam was clearly his side’s best, but lamented its wastefulness in front of goal.
“It was an okay performance, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, particularly on our skills,” he said.
Tim Boyle sprayed his shots, but still kicked three goals, while Daniel White was named best for the Saints.