Author : Josh Ward

Eltham put together their most comprehensive display since returning to the Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 competition after defeating Macleod by 36 points in their crucial clash at Eltham Central Park.

After trailing by seven points at quarter time, the Panthers were the more dominant side for the remainder of the match, kicking the next five consecutive majors throughout the second and third terms, before holding the Roos at bay to win 13.13 (91) to 8.7 (55).

Their biggest margin of victory in a Division 1 match since Round 16, 2016, Eltham now sit two games clear of Macleod at the bottom of the ladder, which may be all that’s required to earn a spot in the top flight in 2025.

The Roos meanwhile are four points and percentage behind ninth placed Bundoora.

Leading the charge for Tim Bongetti’s men was 22-year-old David Evans. With regular ruckman Jaden Collins out injured, Evans excelled against in-form Macleod big man Zachary Hudson, winning the majority of the hit outs, while impacting plays and stoppages with his follow up work around the ground.

The inclusion of former Brisbane and Carlton AFL player Mitch Robinson brought plenty of intensity to the contest for the home side, with his in and under work in midfield rewarded with two majors.

Jason McCormick led the way with three goals, while Alex Bellchambers also impressed around the ground and finished with a couple of his own.

Macleod’s best efforts came when the likes of Tyler Amor-Beale and Mackenzie Hogg were getting their hands on the football, with both players matching the heat of the contest with their aggressiveness.

Anthony Doherty was a regular target inside 50 and finished the afternoon with three goals, while the ever-reliable Darcy Barden covered plenty of ground to finish as his side’s best.

Despite those performances, there was still a lack of consistency amongst a young Macleod outfit, as well as an inability to keep the ball inside their forward half after quarter time.

It was the Panthers with the early ascendancy in wet and slippery conditions, kicking two of the first three goals inside the opening 15 minutes and providing plenty of pressure during that period.

Macleod started to lift in intensity as the term drew on and kicked the final two goals of the quarter through Jake Chiminello and Anthony Doherty to head into the first break up by seven points.

Eltham came out with intent in the second quarter however, lifting their work rate to another level and being rewarded with the first two goals of the quarter through Robinson and Matthew Byron.

Now with their lead intact, the Panthers started to gain territory and maintain possession of the football during the quarter, allowing them to slowly increase their lead.

Bellchambers enjoyed his best period of the match, as he kicked two goals and displayed some great skills in the forward half to help the home side lead by 20 points at the main break.

With a sizeable deficit to chase heading into the second half, the Roos needed to respond, but it was Eltham who had the answers early in the third as McCormick found the big sticks to make it 27-point contest.

Macleod did break the scoring drought through Doherty as well as Damian Papadas, who started to get his hands on the footy inside 50 and impact the scoreboard.

But even when Craig Hayes’ men got the margin to as little as 14 points at times during the quarter, the Panthers would always manage to respond with their intensity and ability to create great chains from defence to attack despite the wet weather.

Returning for his first game since the 2023 Division 2 Grand Final, Josh Merkel was pushed forward and slotted through an important set shot to give the hosts a 25-point three quarter time lead, as well as all the momentum approaching the final term.

Kicking two behinds inside the opening minute of the last quarter, Eltham were looking to put the game to bed, but were unable to find the big sticks initially.

However, the lively Sebastian Molloy was able to all but confirm the result at the 18-minute mark with a goal, before Robinson and McCormick hit the scoreboard again on their way to a celebratory 36-point triumph.