Bendigo Pioneers give TAC Cup flag favourites a scare
THE Bendigo Pioneers kept the heat on the unbeaten Geelong Falcons in Saturday’s TAC Cup contest at Craigieburn’s Highgate Reserve.
The high-flying Falcons led 21-0 after just 12 minutes before Strathfieldsaye’s Harry Conway took a diving mark and kicked Bendigo’s first goal.
Geelong replied in the 20th minute and led 28-9 at quarter-time.
The Pioneers lifted their pressure around the contest and worked extremely hard to limit the Falcons link-up play through the middle.
Sandhurst’s Isaiah Miller dashed off half-back, passed to South Mildura’s Jacob Chisari and then kept on sprinting to receive the handball.
Miller’s shot at goal from outside 50m pitched in the goalsquare and the ball bounced over a Geelong defender for a major.
The Falcons goaled again and led 36-16 at half-time.
Quarter three was to be one of Bendigo’s best of the season.
The Pioneers won the first centre break and South Mildura’s Josh Ryan, switched from defence to attack, was freed in the marking contest and goaled.
Strathfieldsaye’s Fergus Payne inspired team-mates with his attack on the ball.
A Payne pass was marked by South Bendigo’s Blake Poyser to goal and put the Pioneers within seven points at the four-minute mark.
A few minutes later and Bendigo was in front as Payne’s kick on the outside of his right foot curled through the Melbourne-end goal.
Strathfieldsaye’s Danny Jones showed great judgement to leave his immediate opponent and force a turnover as the Falcons charged through half-forward.
Consecutive goals put Geelong up by 13 points before Kybranm’s Liam Barrett won a crucial contest at half-forward and Sandhurst’s Harry O’Meara goaled on the run.
The final term began with Geelong up by seven points.
Quick transition from wing to inside 50m was capped by a mark and goal to Meyrick Buchanan.
Irymple’s Bryce Heeps kicked goal-of-the-day from a tight angle near the point post.
Geelong won the next centre break and Buchanan booted his third goal.
South Bendigo’s Liam Byrne intercepted a pass at half-back and brilliant teamwork through the centre and inside 50m was capped by a mark and goal to Golden Square’s Regan Harvey in his TAC Cup debut.
Harvey’s goal made it 63-56 in the 13th minute, but Geelong was able to control a lot of play over the final few minutes as it won 65-56.
Pioneers coach David Newett said the match again showed the character and fighting spirit in the line-up.
“The past two matches have shown we need to start better, but have also shown we can fight back and have never given up.”
Newett said team leaders such as Chisari, Strathfieldsaye’s Sam Heavyside, Fergus Payne, Liam Byrne and Kyneton’s Jordan Mangan played key roles in the third-quarter charge.
“Some of the boys in their first, second or third games such as Lachlan Ryan, Harvey, Nathan Holt, Tom Paterson did some really good things with the ball, and also when they didn’t.”
Newett said Miller, Jones, Liam Barrett and Josh Cakitaki worked hard to win a lot of one-on-one duels and their rebound from defence put the Falcons under pressure many times.