Eltham broke away after a tight first half to comfortably defeat Panton Hill by 50 points at Eltham Central Park in the opening round of the MC Labour Division 2 season.
After kicking just four majors to half time, the Panthers got things going in the second half, kicking nine majors to three to secure the 13.9 (87) to 5.7 (37) victory.
Eltham had nine individual goalkickers for their 13 majors with new recruits Jesse Donaldson and Nathan Perrone as well as young stars Jason McCormick and Daniel Owen all kicking two goals.
Donaldson was particularly brilliant in his Panthers debut, showing his class all around the ground meanwhile Colm Culligan also impressed in his return to his junior club, playing a key role in the ruck when required was also going up forward to kick a goal.
Tom Goodwin was also an imposing figure in the ruck and up forward and could have easily added more than one major to his tally for the afternoon.
Meanwhile in his debut game for the club, Tom Keys was Panton Hill’s best, doing all he could for his side, whether it was taking intercept marks at half back, pinch hitting in the ruck or having an impact on the scoreboard. Jesse Owens-Draper, Ben Donehue and Samuel Parks also were some of the better players for the visitors.
It was a fiery opening minute after Goodwin gave away a free kick to Nicholas Parks before two 50 metre penalties resulted in Parks kicking the first goal of the match for Panton Hill.
The next 10 minutes was an arm wrestle between both sides with a few more heated moments in between, before Bradyn Taglieri got the home side’s first goal of the afternoon after converting his set shot.
New Eltham coach Tim Bongetti then put his side in front as time on approached after taking a strong diving mark and converting his first NFNL major since representing Greensborough in the 2014 Division 1 Grand Final.
The Redbacks responded immediately however after another ill-disciplined 50 metre penalty from the hosts saw Tom Keys calmly kick his first goal for his new club just minutes before quarter time.
With scores level at the first change, the Panthers looked to break away from their opponents in the early stages of the second quarter when Colm Culligan took a strong leading mark and converted truly just minutes into the term.
Both sides missed multiple set shots throughout the quarter with a major from Eltham’s Daniel Owen in the 18th minute proving to be the only other goal of the term as the home side took a 13-point half time lead.
Things opened up in the second half for Eltham with a five goal to two third term extending their advantage.
Majors from club debutants in Goodwin and Nathan Perrone pushed the margin to beyond four goals. But despite going 19 minutes without a score, consecutive majors from Jake Maher and Scott Conte reduced the deficit to 14 points with only five or so minutes remaining in the quarter.
However just as the Redbacks looked to be back in the contest, the Panthers produced three majors within five minutes, with two goals from young gun Jason McCormick as well as a smooth finish from Jesse Donaldson suddenly ballooning the hosts lead to 32 points at three quarter time.
Six minutes into the last quarter, Donaldson all but ensured Eltham’s victory after his running shot on goal close to the boundary sailed through for his second and his side’s 10th goal of the game.
Eltham would kick three of the final four goals of the game to wrap up an impressive 50-point victory in front of a huge crowd at Eltham Central Park.