Premiers overhaul new boys from Strathfieldsaye

By Richard Jones

Eaglehawk had to come from 15 points down at the last change to register their first win of the season against a very impressive Bendigo footy league rival Strathfieldsaye at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park on Saturday.

Strathfieldsaye – the Storm – jumped out to an early five-goal lead and led at half-time and again at three-quarter time.

It took the reigning premiers until the midway mark of the last quarter to sneak ahead on their way to an eighteen-point victory, 17.15 (117) to 14.15 (99) victory.

In the end it was the Hawks’ supremely fit midfielders in Shannon Milward and Justin Arnold, along with ageless coach Derrick Filo, who were the matchwinners.

With the game in the balance in the final term, Milward booted a fine running goal to drag Eaglehawk within two points. Arnold kept driving the Hawks into attack and a bit of Filo magic handed Eaglehawk the lead.

Having gathered possession a few metres out from the town end goals, Filo twisted one way, then the other, before snapping a crucial major.

If victory belonged to Eaglehawk, Strathfieldsaye’s performance should not be overlooked. It was only the second game in the club’s existence; the previous week they’d defeated Castlemaine at their Tannery Lane ground in their debut match.

Both Eaglehawk and Strathfieldsaye played free-flowing, end-to-end football, which kept the big crowd enthralled.

The Storm jumped out to a 31-point lead in the opening fourteen minutes. Their tall forward line, with Kris Lea, Tim Wicks and Ben Richmond in charge, tore holes in the Eaglehawk defence.

Before the home side had a chance to pass centre half-forward, Strathfieldsaye had 5.1 (31) on the scoreboard. Cameron Hall, Carl Hardingham, Cameron Wood and Ryan Pedrotti produced the zip around midfield and the run from half-back.

Shell-shocked Eaglehawk supporters could scarcely believe their side’s lack of form. It took pacy Brodie Filo, Ryan Threlfall and Jarrod Findlay to capitalise on Storm full-back line fumbles.

Full-forward Balraj Singh booted two majors as Arnold kept the ball heading towards him, and when Josh Gitsham and Threlfall (his second) goaled Eaglehawk snatched an unlikely lead.

The Storm wrested the lead back in the second term. Wicks and Lea made no mistake at the Simpson’s Road end, and lively winger Lachlan Sharp’s long kick into an unguarded goalmouth rolled through.

That left the Hawks 14 points down at half-time. Again the Storm outscored the home side, adding 5.1 to 4.6 in the third quarter.

It was close until the time-on period — Strathfieldsaye 12.12 to Eaglehawk 12.7 — before two vital goals to mobile ruckman-forward Michael Pilcher restored the Storm’s advantage to a little more than two goals.

Pilcher played a top game, winning the centre bounces and marking strongly in the front half. But Strathfieldsaye could not contain the Eaglehawk runners in the last term.

Wingman Jordan Ford started the Hawks’ charge with a classy, running goal while Arnold‘s screwed left-footer was just touched on the line.

The goals to Milward, Derrick Filo and Jarrod Findlay iced the game for the home side with Threlfall’s third major for the day, after the siren, wrapping up the 18-point victory.

Filo was a relieved man after the game. “We’re really battling at the moment and haven’t hit any sort of form. But sometimes you need to get a win like that just to get the year started.

“We still have a lot of blokes down, even though a few have started to turn the corner.”

The Hawks’ coach said the team continued to “butcher the ball and not use it the right way”, although he felt there were some encouraging signs.

Storm coach Clint Whitsed conceded his players had been guilty of a concentration lapse after the midway point of the first quarter. “We have to make sure that because we’re capable of bouncing out well and getting on our way, we have to guard against lapses.”

Whitsed said the club’s marking power up forward was a plus. “We can’t just bomb the ball into attack, though. We have to use our tall forwards’ marking skills to our advantage.”

EAGLEHAWK 7.2 8.3 12.9 17.15 (117)

STRATHFIELDSAYE 6.5 9.11 14.12 14.15 (99)

GOALS – Eaglehawk: Balraj Singh, Brodie Filo, Ryan Threlfall 3, Josh Gitsham, Jarrod Findlay 2, Marty O’Reilly, Derrick Filo, Jordan Ford, Shannon Milward. Strathfieldsaye: Kris Lea, Michael Pilcher 3, Tim Wicks 2, Mark Arnott, Clint Whitsed, Ben Richmond, Lachlan Sharp, Cameron Hall, Ryan pedrotti.

BEST – Eaglehawk: Justin Arnold, Shannon Milward, Josh Gitsham, Aiden Metcalf, Jordan Ford, Jarrod Findlay. Strathfieldsaye: Michael Pilcher, Lachlan Sharp, Cameron Wood, Brenton Hall, Troy McLachlan, Kris Lea.

The Road Ahead: Round 3: Anzac weekend (both Sunday): Kyneton v Eaglehawk, Strathfieldsaye v South Bendigo.

Round 4, May 2: Eaglehawk v Maryborough, Golden Square v Strathfieldsaye.

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