Gordon 12.11 (83) d Springbank 6.8 (44)
By John McGregor
Gordon has booked a double chance in finals after running over the top of arch-rivals Springbank by 39 points.
The Eagles are now four points and significant percentage clear of the fifth-placed Tigers with one round to play.
A tight first half on Saturday saw the Tigers take a slender quarter time lead and then the Eagles had a three-point margin at half time.
It was pressure football right from the first bounce and scoring was miserly and hard fought.
Springbank and Gordon had kicked just three majors each at that stage and the crowd was waiting for a breakout.
It was the Eagles that cut loose in the third quarter, kicking three goals to one.
A proppy Tye Murphy started the ball rolling with a long kick from a pocket, followed by a steadier from a cheeky Mick Nolan and then goal kicking star Brendan Sutcliffe.
Springbank looked undermanned up forward and out of sorts. A blow to the Tigers came when a shoulder injury took Michael Searl from the field around half time.
The 16-point lead at the last change was soon added to by a slew of Eagles goals. Gordon put on a spurt, booting six majors to two in the final stanza.
It was a cracking win to Gordon, which took out the Jimmy Toohey Memorial Shield. And not surprisingly, it was Nolan who won the best on ground medal.
Gordon’s big ruckman Zac May was outstanding and forward Adam Toohey was menacing in front of goals.
Springbank’s best included Billy Driscoll, Joel Maher, James Wall and Mitch Keighrey. Paul O’Shea booted two goals for the Tigers, but was hampered by a hamstring injury.
Gordon coach Ron Watt said he didn’t know which way the game was going to go after half time.
“Both teams had thrown some really hard work at each other. It was a good game. We moved the ball very quick. We’ve got some players who are very quick on their feet,” Watt said.
Springbank coach Troy Beamond was coming to terms with a growing injury list that has dogged the Tigers this season.
“Searl’s done a shoulder. Marty Anderson’s done a hamstring. Bret Maher’s done a hamstring. Shannon Donegan’s concussed. Sam Cue played out the game with a strained thigh. Paul O’Shea will miss next week.” Beamond said.
In round 17, Springbank will battle with Creswick and Gordon will host fellow top four side Buninyong.
Beaufort 19.11 (125) d Learmonth 7.6 (48)
By Tim O'Connor
Beaufort’s midfield fired to guide the team to a big victory over Learmonth on Saturday.
Daniel Venditti, Tom Stapleton, Michael Foster and Alex Petrie were all impressive as the Crows cruised to a 77-point win at home.
The result has left Learmonth 10th on the ladder, four points behind the eighth-placed Dunnstown with one round to play before finals.
Jason Rae and Tom Martin were the Lakies’ best on Saturday.
Buninyong 13.15 (93) d Bungaree 6.4 (40)
By Tim O'Connor
Bungaree now needs some luck in the last round of the season if it is to play finals football.
The Demons dropped to ninth spot on the ladder – two points behind Dunnstown – following Saturday’s defeat at Buninyong.
In the end, the Bombers kicked clear to win by 53 points and lock away a top four position.
Liam Rigby returned to the senior side and booted four goals, while Sam Russell was named best after another good performance in the engine room.
Bombers recruit Derrick Micallef hurt an ankle, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious and he could play next weekend against Gordon.
Bungaree’s best on Saturday were Matt Geary and Joel Mahar.
Rokewood-Corindhap 10.10 (70) d Carngham-Linton 6.14 (50)
By Tim O'Connor
Rokewood-Corindhap’s solid finish to the season has continued with victory over Carngham-Linton.
The Grasshoppers proved too good at home on Saturday, winning by 20 points.
Mitch McLaughlin kicked three goals in a top display in attack for the winners, while Brayden Ferguson and Ben Harris thrived in the midfield.
Carngham-Linton’s standouts included Lachlan Isbister, captain James Nichols and vice-captain Wayne Bruty.
Waubra 13.17 (95) d Clunes 8.3 (51)
By Tim O'Connor
Bottom side Clunes took it right up to ladder-leaders Waubra on Saturday, but was eventually overrun by the minor premiers for 2018.
After trailing the Roos by just 14 points at the final change, the Magpies conceded four goals in the last term to eventually lose by 44 points.
Ruckman Matt Wrigley and Josh Thompson off half back played well for Clunes, while onballer Tom Nash was named best for Waubra.
Skipton 8.17 (65) d Creswick 5.3 (33)
By Tim O'Connor
Skipton produced a big final term to shake off Creswick on Saturday.
The Emus and Wickers were level at the last change, but it was the home side that finished full of running to record a 32-point win.
After a winless 2017 campaign, Skipton has now prevailed in five games for a vastly improved second season under coach Greg Middleton.
Kal Dubbeldam and Mark Hoare booted three goals each for the Emus on Saturday and were joined in the best by Xavier Lourey and Angus Mason.
It was a disappointing result for the Wickers, which beat Skipton by 44 points last season.
Better players for Creswick on Saturday included Pat Taranto, Darrien Mann and Sam Gibson.
In round 17, the Emus will close their year with a trip to Snake Valley to meet old rivals Carngham-Linton, while the Wickers are back home for a battle with finals-bound Springbank.
Dunnstown 11.6 (72) d Newlyn 5.9 (39)
By Tim O'Connor
While ladder positions suggested Newlyn would win Saturday’s clash at Dunnstown, many at the ground knew the home side had the motivation strong enough to come away with a memorable triumph.
And that’s exactly how it played out as the Towners honoured the late Lachlan Poulter with a gutsy 33-point victory over the Cats.
As the final siren sounded, coaches, players and support staff embraced and fans cheered in the outer.
Severe pressure on the ball carrier and a will to win got Dunnstown over the line.
After jumping Newlyn against the wind in the first quarter, the Towners had a margin on Newlyn all afternoon. And despite being challenged in the third term when the lead was trimmed to less than a kick, coach Justin Abrams and his men surged clear to secure the points.
Dunnstown held a nine-point advantage at the last change and it didn’t take long for the hosts to secure the win. Each goal in the last quarter was met with huge celebration, including a major by Matt Bulluss, who kissed his black arm band before being mobbed by teammates.
“I thought we played unbelievable and were part of a day the club will never forget,” Abrams told The Courier.
“Our pressure and effort was terrific around the footy and our ball movement was what we have been after for weeks.”
Harry McKimmie was a huge presence in attack for the Towners and finished the day with five goals. He was arguably the best player on the ground and shone for the winners alongside onballer Nick English, Sam Jenkins, who played in the middle and off half back, skipper Angus Thompson and ruckman Rylan Rattley.
Newlyn joint-coach Chris Dwyer admitted it was a difficult match for his team to approach given the enormity of the day for the opposition, but took nothing away from the Dunnstown boys.
Dwyer said the first quarter was costly for his side, which trailed at the break despite the aid of a strong breeze.
Experienced midfielder Myles Sewell tried hard for the Cats and was perhaps their best player, Joel Willmott was good when moved to McKimmie after he had three majors, young Josh Milne tried hard before coming off with a corked leg and onballer Steve Clifton had an impact at times.
Ballan 8.14 (62) d Daylesford 6.12 (48)
By Tim O'Connor
Ballan managed just one goal to three quarter time, but finished with a wet sail to run over the top of Daylesford on Saturday.
The Blues had booted 1.11 by the final change and then put the foot down with a flurry of majors to secure a 14-point win.
Ballan had the wind in the last quarter and made it count. The side kicked seven goals to Daylesford’s one to capture a sixth win from its past eight games.
“We got on a roll. It was pretty exciting,” Ballan coach Jason McNamara said of his team’s comeback victory.
Onballer Darren Tanti and defender Matt Rollo were among the stars for the Blues, which had a total of eight individual goal-kickers.
There were a couple of injury concerns for the team on Saturday with Ash Mullane heading off for a check-up after leaving the field with blurry vision. Later in the day, Sam Hitchings was sidelined with a shoulder issue.
Ballan has another winnable game against ninth-placed Bungaree in round 17. That will be McNamara’s final fixture in charge of the club, with news he will stand down from the senior coaching role at the end of the season.
Dylan Muscat kicked two goals to be named Daylesford’s best on Saturday, while coach Zac Tisdale, Max Risstrom and Joel Cowan were all important contributors.
The Bulldogs have now slipped to 15th position on the Central Highlands Football League ladder ahead of their clash with Dunnstown next weekend.
While it’s not a massive game in the context of Daylesford’s season, the side can still have a say in the make-up of finals. The Towners need to win to hold out teams outside the top eight from taking their place in the play-offs.