Dogs bite hard to score first victory

After four weeks of trying, East Gambier is finally off the mark in the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League season and did it in a big way by overwhelming West Gambier with a third-quarter rampage.

The Bulldogs entered the contest under pressure having endured three defeats on the bounce and circled this visit to Malseed Park as a perfect opportunity to score a much-needed win.

But the Roos were also determined to bounce back from some form issues of their own which set the stage for one of the most crucial fixtures in the early stages of the season.

The early stages lived up to the hype with neither side breaking free from the arm wrestle.

Even in tricky conditions, excitement machine Giancarlo Cooper snapped the opening major from a tight angle to get the Bulldogs up and about, but West answered back through Michael Minuzzo.

West used the handball to good effect and managed to convert on more chances to snatch the lead by quarter time with the biggest highlight made by coach Daron McElroy, who created something out of nothing.

Scoring slowed in a scrappy second term as the conditions started to become a greater factor with both sides only scoring one goal each.

Gutsy efforts by Tom Nieuwerkerk and Jordan Williams in the middle, plus the opportunistic McElroy up forward meant the Roos held a slender four-point lead at the main break and sniffed a shot at just their second victory of the year.

At the very least fans were bracing themselves for a tight arm wrestle, but no one anticipated what came next.

An East side desperate for victory showed some of its former glory by completely bossing the third term and stealing the game away during a destructive passage of play.

Playing against his former club for the first time, Garret Ha opened the floodgates with a pair of finally executed set shots, while his coach Matt Scanlon also got in the act on their way to kicking four majors each.

The goals just kept coming and after seven straight majors were booted by the Dogs the visitors held all the high ground with a 39-point lead at three-quarter time.

East co-coach Jayden Eldridge said the match-winning run was sparked by a structural change with a youngster leading the way.

“The first half was pretty challenging with West having a crack and sticking it up us,” he said.

“We lost Shaun Lock early, so we had to make a change up forward so we put young Connor Barry up there to have an extra tall.

“He just opened us up a little bit and stretched their defence and we just cleaned our skills up and kicked short through the West defence.

“Garret and Matt also turned it on for us, so it was pleasing to have multiple goal kickers again.”

After the barnstorming third term, East managed to win a more evenly matched fourth quarter to seal the 93-44 result – a much-needed one according to Eldridge.

“Being zip and three takes it toll on the players with the energy down,” he said.

“So to have a win on the board brings smiles on the face after some flat weeks and proves we are around the mark.

“I am glad we did because it had been a long time coming.”

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