Dunnstown 5.20 (50) d Carngham-Linton 2.0 (12)
By Tim O'Connor
Dunnstown booted an inaccurate 5.20, but still managed to run out easy winners in the heavy mud on Saturday.
The Towners were led by big man Aaron Brennan, Rhys Cahir down back and Jackson Brown in the centre as they kicked clear from a three-point half time led to score a 38-point triumph.
Justin O’Brien, Beau Ketchen and Jacob Dawson led the way for the beaten Saints, which managed just two goals for the afternoon.
Waubra 8.13 (61) d Rokewood-Corindhap 5.12 (42)
By Tim O'Connor
Waubra star James Lukich suffered a bad concussion as Waubra eventually fended off a gallant Rokewood-Corindhap on Saturday.
Lukich left the field in the third quarter and didn’t return.
The Grasshoppers were within a kick of the lead deep into the final term, but couldn’t manage a huge upset against the league pacesetters, which booted clear to win by 19 points.
Andrew Wettenhall kicked three goals to be the Roos’ best ahead of ruckman Geordie Lukich and Ben McDonald, who played both forward and down back.
Leigh Finlayson and Paul Wells were among the standouts for the Grasshoppers, which lost coach Damon Delaney to a hamstring injury on Saturday.
Bungaree 6.9 (45) d Newlyn 1.3 (9)
By Tim O'Connor
Sometimes you’ve got to get the job done with just effort and willpower.
And that’s what Bungaree did on Saturday.
In awful conditions for football - the Demons’ home ground a swamp of mud - the hosts showed the most desire to run out comfortable 36-point winners.
Goals were scarce, but two hard-fought majors in the first term and three in the third broke the match apart before a sweeter in the last sealed the win.
And while there was the odd Bungaree goal, the Cats managed just one in a dirty day for the Central Highlands Football League’s big improvers.
It was an important victory for the Demons, which maintain some breathing space on the teams nipping at their heels outside the top eight.
The Cats stay inside the top four, but now only by percentage.
While identifying players from the sidelines was a tough task, Scott Mann booted those two first-quarter goals and worked hard all day to be a standout for Bungaree. Joel Mahar - who was barely recognisable after the match with a face covered in mud - was busy throughout the afternoon, while John Butler and Alex Browning also rated mentions in the best. Browning was one of the Demons’ other goal-kickers, with coach Heath Pyke, Jake Trevenen and Andrew Milroy also managing to find the target.
Jason Slater kicked the only major for the Cats, which gave the standout player honours to joint-coach Dan Wehrung.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s round 13 matches and Bungaree must head to the spa country to take on Daylesford, while Newlyn has a difficult home encounter against Gordon.
Hepburn 13.12 (90) d Skipton 4.5 (29)
By Tim O'Connor
Hepburn strung together its second win in succession on Saturday, but still remains adrift of the top eight.
While the Burras handed Skipton a 61-point defeat on home soil, it wasn’t enough to climb into the finals bracket. The side is one game behind eighth-placed Learmonth with five rounds to play.
Joe Malone, Brad McKay and Ken Cummings had good days for the winners, while Andrew Pitson starred for the Emus.
Beaufort 16.11 (107) d Creswick 5.3 (33)
By Tim O'Connor
Beaufort produced some of its better football to dispatch of Creswick in good style on Saturday afternoon.
The Crows, which rested key players such as Daniel Venditti and Michael Foster, led at every change on their way to a 74-point success.
Interleague backman Lee Marshall was sent forward and kicked three goals for the winners, which rated Levi Cox, Rupert Sangster and Lachlan Pfeifer – playing his first senior game since knee surgery last year – as best.
Creswick coach Ryan Knowles, who didn’t take the field on Saturday, was proud of the way his charges battled out the game after the side lost at least five players to injury during the afternoon.
Knowles said Jayke Arnold, Joel Berry, Mitch Gervasoni, Brad Castleman and Jack Marshman all finished with injury concerns.
Among the standouts for the visitors were Darrien Mann, Pat Taranto, Liam Blake and Clint Robinson, who rucked given the absence of Tom Walmsley.
Gordon 8.12 (60) d Learmonth 7.4 (46)
By John McGregor
What a turnaround! Gordon clawed its way back from a 37-point deficit at half time to run out victorious over Learmonth by 14 points.
The Lakies ran the Eagles ragged in the first half and had booted seven majors without Gordon registering a goal.
It looked like Learmonth was going to continue the pain in the second half and was first out on the ground waiting for Gordon to appear.
That enthusiasm was shot down in the first five minutes with a goal from Eagle Brendan Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe’s major was the first goal for the Eagles and it fired up a glum Gordon home crowd.
Steven Nicholson snapped a second for the hosts and the pressure was on Learmonth to retaliate.
Two behinds was all the Lakies could find in the second half.
Gordon was just hitting its straps… a quick snap in the last term from Nicholson opened up the scoring opportunities.
A huge kick by Tye Murphy took Gordon to the lead by a point.
Adam Toohey led the assault on the scoreboard and it was his last shot on goal that sealed the result with minutes to go.
Learmonth’s sudden drop-off was caused by injuries to a trio of on-field generals.
Playing coach Nick Willox was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder, assistant coach Brenton Powell didn’t return from a calf injury and skipper Kyle Mackay suffered a corked quadriceps.
Learmonth’s Tony Zelencich was the highest scorer on the day with four goals. He and Jason Rae, Nick Martin, Billy Hoye, Michael Zelencich and ruckman Vincent White were best for the Lakies.
Gordon’s main scorers were Sutcliffe with three and Nicholson with two. They were also the main drivers in Gordon’s fightback. Caleb Myers, Zack Ryan and ruckman Zac May were exceptional.
Afterwards, Mackay explained the frustration at the lack of rotation after such a good start.
“Credit to the boys for being able to push through 50-60 minutes of football without having a spell on the bench. Heavy legs. You could see in the end Gordon was getting the spread on us,” he said.
Gordon coach Ron Watt said his frustration was the lack of scoring in the first half.
“I don’t think we were bad at any stage of the game. Our general contest was good. It just took us a while to wear them down. I think our players showed that they really wanted to win,” Watt said.
Saturday’s win leaves Gordon fifth on the Central Highlands Football League ladder and just percentage outside the top four, while the loss sees Learmonth tumble to eighth, but still a game clear of ninth-placed reigning premiers Hepburn.
Ballan 6.14 (50) d Clunes 6.7 (43)
By David Bilbrough
Ballan and the Bongart boys held off a gutsy Clunes outfit to post a thrilling seven-point victory on Saturday afternoon.
In a first for the club and the Bongart family, the ageless Jayson led his three sons - Harley, Ryan and Austin - on to the ground and all four were solid contributors in the triumph.
Harley earned the bragging rights after a relentless, four-quarter performance in the midfield.
The hard work of Dylan Galea, Jack Wilkie and Harley Bongart in the first half paid off.
Jack Gibbs and Harley Bongart hit the scoreboard in the difficult conditions, while Brodie Richie broke a run of six behinds late in the second term to give the hosts a four-goal buffer at the main break.
And when Gibbs booted his second from deep in the forward pocket, the Blues were enjoying a 31-point lead early in the third term.
Clunes evergreen Jason Yole judged the flukey wind to perfection to kick-start the Magpie revival.
The Magpies’ best Jesse Baird followed up with a ripper from the boundary line and when Mitch Wrigley added another, the margin was a teeth-clenching six points.
Nic Clarke and Ash Anderson were pivotal in the visitors’ fightback, continually repelling the Blues’ forward thrusts.
Goals were traded early in the final term. Wilkie gave the hosts enough breathing space as the Magpies' Josh Thompson produced a well-judged shot to manage the final major of the day.
Victorious coach Jason McNamara was pleased to get another win, his side’s fourth from its past five outings.
“We started the game pretty well. They got a bit of a run on in the third term and we just did enough to keep them out,” McNamara said.
“The conditions were tricky to read and it was going to be the team that was cleaner with the ball that had the best chance of winning.”
Despite a winless season so far, Clunes coach Johno Leoncini felt his young charges are heading the right way.
“We're starting to keep ourselves in the game and we're starting to play to how we want to move the footy. If we keep that then things will come – it's that mental toughness they've got to understand,” Leoncini said.
“I'm pretty proud of the boys. We were down to just one on the bench at the end. They're a good bunch of young men and we'll keep fighting.”
While the Magpies sit at the foot of the Central Highlands Football League ladder, the Blues have climbed to 13th.
Next week, Clunes can claim that elusive success when it hosts Dunnstown, while Ballan can catch its breath during the bye before hosting Learmonth.
Springbank 15.6 (96) d Daylesford 4.5 (29)
By Tim O'Connor
Chris Graham had a day out as Springbank made light work of Daylesford.
The onballer collected a stack of possession and kicked four goals to help the Tigers land a 67-point success at Wallace.
Billy Driscoll and Paul O’Shea were also dangerous with three majors each, while hard-at-it midfielder Joel Maher relished the conditions.
Daylesford managed just four goals for the afternoon, with Max Risstrom and Joel Cowan the team’s best.