By Matt Fotia
The AFL Outer East Senior Interleague side were handed a footballing lesson by a classy Bendigo Football Netball League outfit on a beautiful autumn afternoon on the stunning Queen Elizabeth Oval in the heart of the great country town.
Bendigo were victorious by 99 points in the end with a late Matthew Homfray goal ensuring that the margin didn’t finish in the triple figures. The hosts ended up with 35 scoring shots and twelve individual goal kickers as they cut open the Outer East with pace, pressure and a whole lot of precision.
Home ground advantage played a part in the first term, with the Bendigo outfit using their slick ball movement in the early stages. Like a 2010 Mick Malthouse Collingwood side they moved the ball around the boundary line out of defence before finding a moving target in the corridor around Centre Half Forward.
The story of the first half was Bendigo’s goal kicking, which ultimately kept the Outer East in the match for longer than they deserved, the hosts were 4.4 at the first break, with Jack Scanlon taking a number of inside fifty marks and Jake Thrum finding pockets of space in the attacking arc.
The Outer East were however able to break even at stoppages around the grounds due to the inside work of Berwick’s Trent Thomas, Beaconsfield’s Riley Verbi and Olinda Ferny Creek’s Marcus Hottes, but couldn’t create any clear cut opportunities due to the tackling pressure of Bendigo.
Despite much better effort and work rate from the Outer East to start the second stanza, Bendigo continued to dominate the play with their fast game style opening up the centre corridor more and more, putting the Outer East defence under immense pressure. Cranbourne’s Brandon Osbourne stood tall to make sure the Outer East stayed in the contest as long as possible, alas his efforts were all in vain.
Rutley’s men seemed to continually be second to the ball as the Bendigo half forward line of Scanlon, McKenna and Thrum caused havoc taking a number of marks across half forward and wing, before releasing the runners of Horbury and Baird to send the ball deep inside fifty.
And when Lachlan Sharp took an uncontested mark on the half forward flank, wheeled around and kicked the sixth Bendigo goal 12 minutes into the second term, the alarm had well and truly sounded.
If Bendigo were moving the ball with ease and genuine air of cool, the Outer East were the exact opposite. Despite matching their opponents with effort, the Outer East were unable to create any sort of fluency or speed, relying on shallow, hopeful and ultimately speculative inside fifties, which with a small forward line shaped around Berwick’s Harrison Money failed to poke any holes in the Bendigo defence.
When the Outer East finally found their first major via an opportunistic snap from veteran Marcus Hottes it only angered their hosts, who kicked three goals in a matter of minutes to hold a 60 point lead at the main break.
As the shadows began to lengthen over the picturesque Queen Elizabeth Oval after half time, the Outer East began to grow in confidence as they themselves grew. They gained more control of the play, but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
Bromley and Griffiths of Beaconsfield were however doing some fine work and finally some beautiful football was played by the Outer East with Doveton’s Lachlan Batten marking at the edge of the square before finding Cranbourne’s Ryan Jones on the lead inside forward fifty. The narrative of the day continued however as he failed to kick truly, meaning there would be no reward for the improved Outer East effort.
That took the whatever life was left out of the visitors.
It took just 25 seconds for Josh Govan to kick the home sides first goal of the last term, running unopposed inside forward fifty to become the eleventh Bendigo goal kicker of the afternoon. Skipper Jack Geary then kicked his second major of the afternoon under a severe lack of pressure.
The bus ride home could not come quick enough for the boys from the East.
Whilst much of the attention was drawn to the attractive offensive play of the Bendigo outfit, the performance of the defensive six should not be undersold. The Outer East had managed to move the ball to half forward with relative success throughout the afternoon, especially throughout the second and third quarters.
But Strathfieldsaye’s Byrce Curnow had stood in their way on almost every occasion, with the 194 centimetre backman taking countless intercept marks and impacting every contest he attended across the afternoon, whilst Kyneton’s Harrison Huntley had also been steadfast in his refusal to allow Outer East scores, even once the game was well done, fighting tooth and nail for every ball, at one stage declining the opportunity to rush a behind despite holding a 93 point lead late in the last.
It was an absolute footballing lesson from the Bendigo boys, all the Outer East can do is take notes and hope they take home some learnings.
Brandon Osborne was awarded best afield for the Outer East, whilst Jake Thrum won the honour for Bendigo.
Earlier in the day the Under 17 Netball went down 62-35, the Under 18 Football lost 59-49 and the Open Netball were defeated by 15 goals 55-40.
Bendigo FNL 18.17.125
AFL Outer East 3.8.26
Goals : Luke Bee-Hugo (Cranbourne), Matthew Homfray (Beaconsfield), Marcus Hottes (Olinda Ferny Creek)
Best : Brandon Osborne (Cranbourne), Marcus Hottes (Olinda Ferny Creek), Tim Gunn (Berwick), William Arthurson (Berwick), Patrick Bruzzese (Wandin), Zach Monkhorst (Woori Yallock)