Epic comeback by Bulldogs

Breakthrough victory: Elated Gisborne players led by Bailee Revell and Jake O’Brien leave Canterbury Park after their dramatic four-point victory over a strong Eaglehawk lineup on Saturday. Photo: Brett Fraser

A remarkable turnaround by Gisborne senior footballers produced five crucial last quarter goals and a four-point victory over Eaglehawk on Saturday.
It may well be a season defining victory for the Bulldogs, who find themselves in third position on the ladder, with a home and away games round break this Saturday, then very winnable matches at Gardiner Reserve against Kyneton and Maryborough to follow.
To win at Eaglehawk is a tough ask at any time, and Bulldogs’ senior coach Rob Waters and his assistants were elated with the fighting spirit that emerged in the last quarter after the home side had looked to have the match under control
In a low-scoring affair, Gisborne had found goals hard to conjure, and trailed by 27 points — 4.8 to 8.11 – at the last change.
To restrict Eaglehawk to just four points when the chips were down was a huge performance, while some risk taking produced a match-winning 5.4 at the other end of the ground.
In the first term Gisborne failed to capitalise on a wind advantage, and was facing an uphill task at half time.
Canterbury Park has proved a graveyard for visiting teams over the years, and the Bulldogs must gain huge confidence from this performance.
Key defenders Jack Reaper and Jarrad Lynch played key roles, and other players lifted under pressure as the Hawks’ lead was whittled away as the clock ticked down.
Paddy McKenna finished with three goals and posed a constant threat to the opposition, while ex-Castlemaine player Jake O’Brien showed his class with Doolan and Crosbie also included in the ‘best’ list.
Gisborne won 9.13 (67) to 8.15 (63), and this win, plus the one-point opening round margin over Strathfieldsaye, are making other finals aspirants sit up and take notice.
Gisborne Reserves found the tough Hawks too experienced, and went down by 25 points in another low-scoring affair.
S. McCaskill 2, L. Doherty and L. Weber were the goalkickers, with S. Merrett, B. Nalder, M. McDonald, B. Spear, E. Bretherton and R. Nicol the best players.
The Bulldogs’ in-form Under 18s did not have things all their own way, but they settled into a 10-goal second-term scoring spree with the wind.
The young ‘Dogs ball movement proved too much for their opponents, with a 20.12 to 3.5 final score.
James Fox 5, and Harry Thomas and Matt. Merrett both 4 were the major goalkickers, with Rye Penny, Connor Bills, Fox, Luke Ellings, N. Ozanne and M. Weber listed as best.
It was a mixed bag of results for Gisborne’s netball sides, with the A-graders inching ahead by seven goals in the first half, then stepping up with quick scoring to open up an advantage to eventually win 55-43 and maintain their high position on the ladder.
Gisborne’s Under 17s and B-grade teams remain undefeated and on top of their respective ladders.
U17s coach Rylee O’Connell said the side can develop and improve further, listing “complacency as our number one enemy” at this stage.
The B Reserve contest as close throughout, before the Hawks produce some accurate shooting late in the game to prevail 40-37.
Some key ‘outs’ and injuries saw a different look A Reserve side, with Eloise Rodda and Georgia Murray applying defensive pressure and veteran Shelley Farrugia showing composure and strength in the attacking circle.
Despite this, a well-drilled Hawks’ team ran away with a 50-29 victory.
Overall, Gisborne’s netballers have plenty to look forward to as the season progresses.

Strong contest: Acrobatic ruckman Braiden Blake flies high against Eaglehawk. Photo: Brett Fraser

Georgia Murray defends for Gisborne against Eaglehawk. Photo: Brett Fraser