(Colm Culligan pictured above)
Eltham have produced another stellar victory to remain undefeated in the MC Labour Division 2 competition, defeating Thomastown by 40 points at Eltham Central Park.
The Panthers kept the Bears goalless in the first term and despite a mini third term surge from the visitors, the hosts were too strong in the 10.15 (75) to 5.5 (35) victory.
Daniel Horsfield was sublime for last year’s minor premiers, with his clearance work a highlight in his side’s win. He also was a handful up forward when necessary and found the goals as a result.
Jason McCormick was slick inside 50, kicking three goals, while Tom Goodwin and Daniel Owen were also brilliant around the ground. Matthew Byron could’ve had multiple goals to compliment his impressive contested marking, but inaccuracy cost him from contributing to the scoreboard.
Lawrence Lopiccolo was a standout in the midfield for the Bears, often trying to create attacking plays with his ball winning ability, Ross Hatzis also impressed, kicking two important third term goals, while Aaron D’Angelo did all he could in a solid performance down back.
Eltham are not only now one of three sides to remain undefeated in the 2023 season, but with their win on Saturday, they have now claimed victory in 20 of their last 21 home and away games.
The Panthers registered nine scoring shots to one on the opening term and despite the lack of accuracy, they made their intent known on the contest early.
Colm Culligan found the goals inside two minutes for Eltham before Byron dominated the air inside 50, taking contested mark after contested mark. However, he would register only behinds for his efforts, with the next goal from the hosts not coming until just before time on when Benjamin Smith, in his first game of the season, kicked truly.
Daniel Horsfield made it a third just minutes later before a late behind from Thomastown ensured they didn’t enter quarter time scoreless, albeit they still trailed by 23 points.
A contested second term followed with multiple stoppages slowing down the scoring.
Culligan kicked his second to extend the margin to 29 points before Bill Samie broke the Bears’ goal drought, slotting through his seventh major of the season to give the visitors some hope at half time.
Jason McCormick’s first goal of the afternoon just minutes into the third term pushed Eltham’s lead out even further, but unlike the previous two quarters, Thomastown looked up for the fight, with Hatzis and Salvatore Mamone registering back-to-back goals within three minutes.
The skill of McCormick and Daniel Owen allowed the home side to respond with back-to-back goals of their own but the Bears through Mamone and Hatzis again would kick the last two majors of the term to reduce the deficit to 18 points at three quarter time and give the visitors a sniff at an upset win.
It was imperative for Thomastown to kick the first goal of the last quarter if they were any chance of making a comeback, but the ball lived in Eltham’s forward half for the first stages of the term.
A Ben Montanaro goal six minutes in all but sealed victory for the Panthers, with later majors from Middleton and McCormick wrapping up another terrific triumph from a side many are expecting to have a big say in this year’s MC Labour Division 2 competition.