Cats hold on to win by five points against the Bombers in a tough match.GEORDIE COWAN July 15, 2014 3:30am
Lockington-Bamawm United remains a mountain yet to be overcome, but Leitchville-Gunbower reached its highest point up the summit on Saturday as the Cats won a thriller by five points.
After trailing by 19 points at the last break, the Bombers pushed and prodded but were unable to hit the lead against the three-time reigning Heathcote and District Football League premier, with the Cats prevailing 9.10 (64) to 8.11 (59).
The home team, who welcomed back Trent Bacon, Lachie Collins, Matt Bongiovanni, Michael Dobson, Ryan Jensen, Rhys Woodland and Jared Ireland, will be thankful for its senior players in defence who took some of the sting out of the game when Leitchville-Gunbower was pressing towards the end.
This included players like Nathan O’Brien and Simon Keleher, who had been otherwise relatively well-held throughout the day, while Daniel Lucas and Carl Treacy, making his first senior appearance for the year, was also solid.
Bacon impressed on his return from Bendigo Gold with a terrific spell in the third quarter, while Bongiovanni, Marcus Angove and Ireland also played well.
Jonathan Hay was again good in the forward line and finished with three goals, but it could have been an even better day had he held a few more marks and kicked accurately.
Leitchville-Gunbower, missing Jake Williams (hamstring) again, produced a contested style of football which almost earned it the win.
Held to just three goals in the first half, the Bombers then stepped up a gear thanks in large part to a terrific performance off half-back from Joel Helman.
The youngster’s accurate and composed disposal was vital in finding targets as the visitors surged forward, with clean possessions not seen often on the windy and slightly wet day.
Midfielders Steve Pretty, Jake Truefeldt, Russell Lee and Kade Merlo also had good days for Leitchville-Gunbower, while young player Riley Keath impressed with his constant efforts throughout the day.
Hoby Bussey had a solid day in defence, with Brad Perry also playing well.
LBU started better of the two teams, kicking with the breeze in the opening quarter.
Matt Hay fought hard to gain two marks inside the forward 50m but missed both shots, before the former AFL player finally converted after earning a free-kick and 50m penalty.
The Bombers struggled to get the ball past the halfway mark of the ground so it came as a bit of a surprise when Matt Hawken goaled off the ground the bring the team back within four points.
In a contested game of football, a 60m barrel from Keleher opened up the ground and Jeremy Mundie benefited, but a late Helman goal saw the Cats hold a five-point lead at the first change.
LBU coach Ady Dohnt, who remains out of the side with a lower leg injury, told his players they needed to transition quicker between offence and defence.
Leitchville-Gunbower hit the lead for the first time in the match early in the second quarter when Ryan Hocking kicked truly from a set shot as the visitors upped the pressure.
However, similar to the Cats’ wastefulness in the opening term, the Bombers could not make the most of their territorial advantage and a Lachie Collins goal from a free-kick saw the home team regain the lead against the flow of play.
The team then threatened to run away with the match with three more unanswered goals to Collins, Hay and Matt Deledio goaling as LBU led 43-23 at half-time.
When Bongiovanni snapped the opening goal of the third term the Cats had kicked five consecutive majors and led by 25 points, but the visitors kept coming.
Lee replied for the Bombers, but two more goals to Hay and Mundie saw the advantage extend to 32 points — but that was to be the last time the home team would kick a goal.
Truefeldt benefited from a 50m penalty to reduce the margin and another Lee goal off one step saw LBU lead by 63-44 at the last break.
Leitchville-Gunbower coach Marty Shadbolt said the result would be determined by his team’s work rate and he would have been pleased with its early response.
The team pushed forward and held the ball in its attacking half, but a couple of poor disposals and poor decisions saw the home team hold firm.
It looked like the Cats had done enough when the Bombers had not breached the home team’s defence halfway through the quarter, but an accurate Lee Pollock set shot brought the margin to within 11 points.
A 50m goal from Merlo then drew the visitors to within five points, but they were unable to earn another shot at goal in the dying minutes as LBU held on by five points.
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