By: Connor O’Leary
Sunday, August 02, 2015
A SIX-GOAL to one third term enabled Eltham to snap its 40-game losing streak against Heidelberg in a tense encounter at Eltham Central Park.
Having entered the main break eight points in arrears, the Panthers’ onslaught gave them a 22-point cushion leading into the final term before surviving a Tiger challenge to prevail with an 11.10 (76) to 8.13 (61) victory.
The 15-point win is Eltham’s ninth for the season – tripling its 2014 win tally whilst moving into third on the Division 1 ladder with three games left in the home-and-away season.
Eltham is now the only team in Division 1 to have beaten each of its opponents at least once, with coach Mario Bandera refusing to place any limits on how far his side can go this season.
“The last three weeks we’ve beaten some good sides – and we’ve had to do it tough,” Bandera said.
“We’re a game clear in third now … our aim at the start of the year was to improve.
“As the year has gone on, we began to talk finals; now we can talk double chance and from there anything is possible.”
Matthew Williamson was outstanding for the Panthers, battling manfully in the ruck whilst also booting two crucial goals – including a freakish checkside snap after sidestepping his Tiger opponent.
Chase Caulfield continued his stellar season, patrolling the Eltham backline and taking a number of intercept marks in the absence of key defenders Eamon Gilbert and James Reid.
The returns of Jordan Treloar and Chaz Sargeant did little to spark Heidelberg, however the Bergs were well served by Charles Gaylard and Ben Cosgriff – who limited star forward James Kroussoratis to just two goals.
Heidelberg’s forward line failed to function for the majority of the day and although the Tigers were able to create a number of opportunities, they were often squandered.
It appeared early on as though Heidelberg would stretch its unbeaten run against the Panthers into a 34th year as it booted the first four goals of the contest.
The Tigers’ clearance dominance and spread from the stoppages produced the type of incisive ball movement that has been sorely lacking recently from last year’s grand finalists.
However, Eltham rebounded with three consecutive goals to leave the game in the balance, despite Daniel Archer nailing a set shot in the shadows of half time.
With the game in the balance, the Panthers produced arguably their best quarter of football for the season in the third.
Although wasteful early in the term, Eltham began to straighten up. Jamie Doukas kicked two opportunistic goals, whilst further majors to Josh Lorey, Anton Woods, Kroussoratis and the incredible banana from Williamson left the Bergers staring down the barrel of a fourth consecutive defeat.
Refusing to go down without a fight, Heidelberg began to get the game back on its own terms.
The Bergs’ defensive press pressured Eltham into a number of turnovers exiting defensive 50, however outside of majors to Jarrod Hodgkin and Daniel Cookson, the Tigers’ kicking for goal was deplorable.
Heidelberg’s inaccuracy proved costly as Doukas dribbled through his fourth goal from the boundary, before Williamson converted from an acute angle to seal Eltham’s win.
The Panthers have now won four on the trot and will next week look to make it five when they travel to Shelley Street to tackle North Heidelberg.
Best Players: , M. Williamson , C. Caulfield , J. Doukas , D. Coffield , M. Evans , L. Glasgow
Five goal to two last quarter saw the Panthers overhaul the tigers to score by 15 points and secured the double chance.
Goal Kickers: T. Owen 5, B. Taglieri 3, S. Smith 2, M. Jessop , T. Burns
Best Players: , K. Keane , R. Romeril , M. Lillie , B. Taglieri , A. Burns , M. Bullock
Similar to the Reserves the Under 19s came home will a wet sail in the last quarter to score a strong win
Best Players: , P. Turnbull , J. Mallard , M. Cantwell , N. Sirianni , C. O”Leary , N. Eggleton