HOP­PERS MISS OUT ON BIG ONE

Campaspe News - - SPORT -

EVEN with a loss to end the sea­son, most would con­sider Col­binab­bin’s foot­ball sea­son a mas­sive suc­cess.

The Hop­pers fin­ished the Heath­cote District Foot­ball League home-an­d­away sea­son in fourth, earn­ing an elim­i­na­tion fi­nal show­down with LBU.

Yet three weeks later, Col­binab­bin was one quar­ter away from a stun­ning up­set of North Bendigo and a spot in the grand fi­nal.

De­spite a gal­lant per­for­mance on Satur­day, North Bendigo was too good in the fi­nal quar­ter to take the match by 39 points.

The first quar­ter de­liv­ered on the build-up dur­ing the week, with both sides keen to gain the early as­cen­dency.

In a high scor­ing af­fair, it was the Bull­dogs who claimed the points in the open­ing term, outscor­ing the Hop­pers 5.3 to 4.3 to take a six point lead into quar­ter time.

The Bull­dogs flexed their mus­cle in the sec­ond, get­ting on top of the clear­ances and driv­ing the ball forward at will.

They booted 5.3 to Colbo’s 3.3 to ex­tend their lead to 18 points at the main break.

A mas­sive third term saw the Hop­pers re­gain con­trol as they piled on 5.3 while restrict­ing the Bull­dogs to just 1.6 head­ing into three-quar­ter­time.

It didn’t take long for North Bendigo to move in for the kill in the last term. The Bull­dogs were ruth­less, kick­ing 7.7 to Colbo’s 1.1 to seal the vic­tory and book an­other grand fi­nal meet­ing with Leitchville-Gun­bower — the fourth in a row fea­tur­ing the two pow­er­houses.

Hop­pers coach Nick Knight admitted it was a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult.

‘‘It isn’t what we would have wanted,’’ he said.

‘‘We played a pretty solid game up un­til the three-quar­ter-time break and were re­ally happy with our ef­fort through­out the game.

‘‘But un­for­tu­nately they got on top of us in the fi­nal quar­ter and we weren’t able to get them back.’’

With the fi­nal re­sult go­ing the way it did, the sea­son is over for the Hop­pers.

It’s a sea­son they can look back on and con­sider a suc­cess.

To get within a quar­ter of a grand fi­nal berth is a mas­sive achieve­ment, and will be a solid build­ing block for the club go­ing forward.

‘‘We are re­ally ex­cited for the di­rec­tion that the club is head­ing in and we can­not wait to start our prepa­ra­tion for 2019,’’ Knight said.

Former Rochester team­mates Mitch Bright (left) and El­liot Bowen mark strongly against North Bendigo dur­ing the HDFNL pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal on Satur­day.

Pho­tos: Bruce Povey.

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