Great Escape – Hawks by a point

Hawks’ heroes: Tom O’Loughlin (at left) and Caleb Dumper kicked successive goals under pressure deep into time-on to snatch a one-point victory for Woodend-Hesket against Romsey on Saturday. Photo: Bill West

Woodend-Hesket senior footballers conjured up an astonishing escape with two extremely late goals to defeat a gallant Romsey by a solitary point on Saturday.

It was one of the great matches played at Gilbert Gordon Oval, and the outcome has huge ramifications for both clubs as far as the Riddell League’s 2023 finals are concerned.

The Hawks remain in second place with three home and away rounds remaining, while the Redbacks find themselves replaced by Macedon in fifth place – the two sides clash at Romsey in what is a virtual elimination final this Saturday.

The other big news from the 15th round was the methodical dismantling of the previously unbeaten Diggers Rest by a rampaging Riddell. The margin was 45 points, and last season’s premiers are well and truly on a change with seven successive victories.

Back to Gilbert Gordon Oval’s humdinger, with Hawks’ coach Josh Pound admitting he was “virtually lost for words” with the stunning finish.

“This group is very special, but the job is far from done,” Pound declared, indicating there there would be celebrations to follow.

The Hawks have the bye this weekend, and will be stronger with Ethan Minns and Dan Davey returning from an overseas trip.

At three-quarter-time, Redbacks’ coach Justin Sherman was pleased with the players’ performance to that stage, but emphasised they had to play four quarters of football, and would be defined by what they did. At that stage they led by a point.

Ace forward Jack Jedwab was a constant threat, and finished with seven goals for the Redbacks. It looked like being enough in a very close game, until a dramatic change of fortune occurred deep into time-on.

It was desperation pulsating football with vocal supporters urging both sides on, and both had only one fit interchange player left.

Down by 11 points, the Hawks regained hope when Caleb Dumper coolly slotted an angle goal.

Less than a minute to go, and ice-cool Daniel Toman weighed up whether to have a shot for goal from just beyond 50 metres. He made what proved to be the correct decision and passed to Tom O’Loughlin on the half-forward flank.

O’Loughlin’s decisive kick sailed through, and there was almost pandemonium. The Redbacks tried desperately to force an instant reply, but time ran out.

Final scores: Woodend-Hesket 14.11 (95) d Romsey 14.10 (94).

The match had been close throughout, with Romsey’s first term of 4.2 to 1.6 setting the stage for a great battle. But Jacob Murphy instantly created a goal as soon as the second term began. At half-time Romsey’s lead was five ponts.

Kane Brinkhuis and Corey Pertzel were two of the younger Redbacks to stand out – and the match against Macedon has a ‘must win’ rating.


Riddell coach Justin Belleville predicted that the match at Diggers Rest was one the Bombers “should be able to win”.

He was right, except even the most ardent Riddell fans were astounded with the side’s dominance as the Burras were outscored in every quarter, being restricted to a miserable 1.5 in the second half.

The Bombers expect to enter the finals with the double chance and a very strong lineup, with the August 19 last round game against Wallan a goo test for both sides.

Macedon had the danger match against Melton Centrals well under control at half-time, and finished up 26 points. Jack Kernan made a welcome return after injury.

Coach Al Meldrum will have the Cats well prepared for the clash at Romsey.

Lancefield ran right away from Western Rams to win by 116 points. It was the third win this season by the improving Tigers who have a tough run home with matches against Wallan, Riddell and Romsey.

Agonising wait: Al Rae, one of Woodend-Hesket’s strong on-field leaders, was sidelined with a leg injury late in the third term, and could hardly bear to watch as the clock ticked down in the dramatic last quarter. Both the Hawks and Romsey were reduced to one fit player on the bench late in the game.
Fierce contest: Both sides stepped up the pressure with so much at stake with finals beginning late this month.