HOPPERS MISS OUT ON BIG ONE
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.