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EAST POINT v NORTH BALLARAT CITY
East Point has given notice that its premiership form of a year ago is not far away as the Ballarat Football League finals loom.
The Kangaroos kept a grip on top position with a second half demolition of North Ballarat City at the Eastern Oval on Saturday.
East Point went on a 14-goal rampage to blow North Ballarat away by 79 points.
Although coach Jake Bridges still sees the Roos as a work in progress, there was a lot to like about them once in full flight.
What made the victory all the more impressive was the way it shut down North Ballarat and took it completely out of the match.
City went into the game on the back of four consecutive wins - a run which had it back in the finals race, sitting just one game outside the top six.
North Ballarat had everything to play for and that was the way it attacked the assignment to lead by eight points at half-time.
However, that was where it came to a screaming halt for City.
With Mickitja Rotumah-Onus, Jacob Brown, Clay Bilney and Matthew Johnston taking the game by the scruff of the neck, it was all East Point.
Bridges said the Roos were able to take North's game away from it - pressing and closing up the visitors' space, and with it their ability to spread and run.
He said they then in turn used the ball well and transitioned with authority.
In contrast, North Ballarat went away from everything it had been doing right in the previous month and suffered the consequences.
There was nothing City could do to stop the onslaught as its structures fell apart, leading to an inability to get quality possession.
While East Point had a lot to be happy with, the win might come at a price.
Ruckman Jaykeb Lench is facing a striking charge, and half back Jesse Baird and key forward Brad Whittaker are among several players with injury concerns.
Baird is the big worry after suffering a knock to the outside of his left knee early in the third term. That ended the day for Baird, who will have scans to determine the extent of the trouble.
Whittaker sat out the second half after getting a knock in the hip area, while makeshift ruckman Joel Van Meel responded to treatment for soreness at half-time to play out the game. Aden Nestor also struggled with calf stiffness.
East Point will regain Bryson McDougall (rested) and Dalla Martin (unavailable) for Saturday's top-of-the-table clash with Sebastopol at Marty Busch Reserve.
North Ballarat City played out the game with captain Simon McCartin on the sidelines.
While East Point leads Sebastopol, Sunbury and Redan by percentage with all on 44 premiership points with three rounds to play, North Ballarat City has made its task of forcing its way into the top six much more difficult.
City is now two games out of the top six behind Melton and Darley.
With its percentage taking a big hit, North Ballarat must now win all three remaining games and hope that either Melton or Darley lose all three.
The fixture makes it a possibility, with Melton still not a certainty to play finals.
City plays Darley next round and then faces Ballarat and Melton South.
Darley follows North Ballarat City with games against East Point and Ballarat.
Melton has an imposing run home against Sunbury, Sebastopol and Redan.
East Point 3.4, 5.4, 13.8, 19.14 (128)
North Ballarat City 2.5, 5.12, 6.13, 6.13 (49)
GOALS - East Point: Jacob Brown 5, Aden Nestor 2, Jake McQueen 2, Cameron Lovig 1, Billy Jones 1, Daniel Semmens 1, Mitchell Tuddenham 1, Jesse Baird 1, Jordan Johnston 1, Matthew Johnston 1, Joel Mahar 1, Clay Bilney 1, Mickitja Rotumah-Onus 1. North Ballarat City: Harry Loader 2, Adam Turley 2, Cameron McCallum 1, William Young 1
BEST - East Point: Billy Jones, Jake McQueen, Mickitja Rotumah-Onus, Jacob Brown, Clay Bilney, Matthew Johnston. North Ballarat City: Ryan Hobbs, Brock Leonard, Samuel Scally, Cameron McCallum, Sam Bromley-Lynch, Harry Loader
BACCHUS MARSH v SEBASTOPOL
Sebastopol will play in a Ballarat Football League finals series for the first time since 2000.
The Burra locked away a top six berth with 33-point win over Bacchus Marsh at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
In Sebastopol's last finals appearance it reached the grand final, only to lose to Melton by eight points.
With East Point dishing out a 79-point thrashing to seventh-placed North Ballarat City, Sebastopol is now three games and 38.14 per cent inside the top six.
The Burra has climbed to second, but still has some work to retain a top two spot.
It meets ladder leader East Point in a battle for top position next round, followed by Melton away and Lake Wendouree.
Right now though, Sebastopol can rightly celebrate a special achievement after the disappointment of missing the finals by one game last year.
In what was a trend for the day across the competition, Sebastopol did not get the upperhand on Bacchus Marsh until the second half.
Burra coach Leigh Hutchinson and his Cobras counterpart Peter Davey agreed that game had not reached any great heights in a tight opening two quarters.
Hutchinson described it as "pretty flat" as each side nullified the other, while Davey summed it up as an arm wrestle.
"There was no energy," Hutchinson said.
Davey said the Cobras had put a major focus on aiming to get the first goal of the second half to generate some momentum.
It was Sebastopol which made the better start with two majors.
Ultimately, four goals in each of the third and fourth terms was enough for the Burra to break open the game.
For Sebastopol, the match marked the return of AFL and VFL-experienced Matt Austin and tall forward Toby Hutt.
Austin replaced Brett Goodes, who was unavailable, in the selected side for his first game since round one.
Austin was originally sidelined by a shoulder injury, but Hutchinson said a series of other smaller issues had delayed his return.
Hutchinson said it was great to get Austin and Hutt back.
As well as Goodes, Sebastopol also has high profile duo Luke Kiel and James Keeble to return.
The Burra's Tony Lockyer, who yet again played a starring role across half back, required stitches to a cut chin after a head clash with Bacchus Marsh's Nick Stuhldreier, who cut his forehead.
While Sebastopol has finals ahead of it, Bacchus Marsh will miss after playing finals for the past three season.
Sebastopol 2.4, 4.5, 8.6, 12.7 (79)
Bacchus Marsh 2.2, 4.4, 5.6, 6.8 (44)
GOALS - Sebastopol: Michael Powell 5, Chase Dummett 2, Tobias Thoolen 2, Lachlan Cassidy 1, Toby Hutt 1, Geoffrey Lovett 1. Bacchus Marsh: Jake Owen 3, Harrison King 1, Jack Parente 1, Kain Dickson 1
BEST - Sebastopol: Tony Lockyer, Michael Powell, Jacob Wilkinson, Chase Dummett, Ryan Noether, Lachlan Cassidy. Bacchus Marsh: Harrison King, Tyson Shea, Daniel Burton, Jake Owen, Connor Stone, Jack Parente
MELTON v LAKE WENDOUREE
Braedan Kight kicked eight goals to help inspire Melton to a 76-point win over Lake Wendouree at MacPherson Park on Saturday.
For Melton coach Aaron Tymms, it was win the Bloods had to have as they work on cementing a finals berth.
Melton has moved to fifth and although two wins inside the top six is still not a certainty to play finals.
One more win will be enough, but there is nothing easy about any of its last home and away assignments against three of the top four sides - Sunbury, Sebastopol and Redan.
Despite the end margin being clear cut, Tymms felt it took a while to completely shrug off Lakers.
Looking to avenge an early season upset loss at the hands of Lake Wendouree, Melton kicked the first four goals.
Lakers stuck at it, but Kight just kept bobbing up as he booted four of the Bloods eight goals in the second term.
With every game so important, Melton will not have the luxury of following other clubs in resting players.
So it was no surprise to see Tymms taking advantage of having an unassailable lead late to rotate some of his top-end players through the interchange more than usual.
Tymms said it was particularly pleasing to for only the second time this season to string together two wins on end.
They did the same in round three and four against Bacchus Marsh and Darley.
Melton 4.3, 12.6, 16.11, 18.13 (121)
Lake Wendouree 2.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.3 (45)
GOALS - Melton: Braedan Kight 8, Liam Carter 4, Riley Walker 1, Jack Walker 1, Mark Orr 1, Dyson Stevens 1, Shaun Campbell 1, Ryan Carter 1. Lake Wendouree: Jacob Coxall 4, Bailey Edwards 1, Jacob Lohmann 1, Caleb Hepworth 1
BEST - Melton: Braedan Kight, Liam Carter, Dyson Stevens, Connor Griffiths, Matt Denham, Ben Archard. Lake Wendouree: Jacob Coxall, Ben Taylor, Bailey Edwards, Joel O'Connell, Caleb Hepworth, Kynan Raven
REDAN v BALLARAT
Redan coach Jarrett Giampaolo believes a grinding third quarter was the linchpin in allowing the Lions to kick away from Ballarat by 49 points at the City Oval on Saturday.
With a handy lead of 23 points at the main break, Redan was unable to build on it to any extent in the third term.
Ballarat threw everything at the Lions, but the effort seemed to take a toll as Redan finished off with six goals.
Swans coach Joe Carmody said once again he was pleased with the effort and felt they were still in with a chance in the last quarter.
He pointed to Redan's greater poise being a deciding factor though, with Ballarat unable to lock the football in its attacking end well enough.
"They go it out far too easily."
Carmody said despite the loss the Swans continued to sahow good signs ahead of preparations for next season.
Redan 4.6, 8.9, 9.13, 15.17 (107)
Ballarat 2.1, 5.4, 5.4, 8.10 (58)
GOALS - Redan: Lachlan McLean 3, Orren Stephenson 2, Alexander Harvey 2, Shaun Grigg 2, Lachlan George 2, Grant Bell 2, Patrick Britt 1, Dean Chester 1. Ballarat: Jack Blackburn 2, Daniel Kennedy 2, Tyler Constable 1, Lawson Prendergast 1, Grant Baldwin 1, William Garner 1
BEST - Redan: Lachlan George, Zac Jenkins, Jordan Baker, Liam Hoy, Alexander Harvey, Keenan Waterbury. Ballarat: Marcus Powling, Taylor Sutton, William Garner, Shane Pongho, Lawson Prendergast, Luke Wynd
SUNBURY v MELTON
Sunbury had to wait until the second half to break away from Darley at Clarke Oval, but when it did it put the Devils to the sword to go away by 43 points.
Battling difficult weather conditions, each side required great patience early with just three goals before half-time.
Sunbury finally opened up the game in the third term, with Jack Landt breaking the mould with two goals in the space of a minute.
Jack Sheahan and Dylan Featon also converted and the Lions were away.
While comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard, Darley was able to match Sunbury for large periods of general play - managing to break even with the Lions in contested possessions.
If not for some inaccuracy in the third term, Darley might have been able to make some inroads on the scoreline - something Devils coach Heath Scotland touched upon after the game.
Sunbury coach Travis Hodgson was impressed at the way the Lions were able to grind out the victory.
"We were really impressed with how we were able to put Darley to the sword on the outside.
"We really thought we did them with our pace.
"Our third quarters have been really good. We have probably only lost one or two for the season, so to be able to break the game open was really pleasing," Hodgson said.
It was a frustrating game for Scotland.
"We had the right attitude early. We ground away the first quarter, but unfortunately we just fell away after that.
"They probably played the conditions a bit better than what we did and I think that was telling in the result. They just seemed cleaner with the footy in hand," Scotland saId
Sunbury 0.2, 2.6, 6.8, 9.10 (64)
Darley 1.1, 1.2, 1.7, 2.9 (21)
GOALS - Sunbury: Jack Landt 2, Dylan Landt 2, Jack Sheahan 2, Andrew Duhau 1, Liam Berry 1, Dylan Featon 1. Darley: Leigh Spiteri 1, Bailey Waasdorp 1
BEST - Sunbury: Alik Magin, Lachlan Bramble, Jayden Eales, Daylan Kempster, Grant Valles, Nathan Wood. Darley: Jake Edwards, Jake Ancrum, Luther Baker, Bryce Stephenson, Jacob Zeestraten, Bailey Waasdorp