A CLUTCH set shot from Sale City’s Daniel Bird broke Heyfield hearts in a pulsating North Gippsland Football Netball League encounter at the Gordon Street Reserve on Saturday.
Bird was awarded a free kick 30 metres out from goal with scarcely a minute to play, following a trademark Sale City transition from Brendon Rathnow and coach David Piasente.
The Bulldog held his nerve to kick the goal and hand his side a four-point win, 10.8 (68) to 9.10 (64).
“It was a pressure situation and to his credit he looked calm and kicked it well,” Piasente said.
“Jacob Schuback had an opportunity three or four minutes earlier that we didn’t take, so it was really pleasing to get the points at the end of the day.”
Sale City was without four regular starters, with Troy Carstairs, Mitchell Evans and Evan Johnson unavailable and Tom Wilson a late withdrawal.
Piasente took the opportunity to blood some young players and praised Harrison Evans, Kerrod Macgregor-Davies and Joel Safstrom – the latter given his senior debut in place of Wilson – for their efforts.
Heyfield hit the ground running and led by 16 points at the first change.
The visitors hit back to lead by six points at the main break, as the game ebbed and flowed, with 14 of the 19 goals kicked at the western end of the ground despite a westerly breeze.
The Bulldogs kicked three goals to one after three-quarter-time to snatch the victory and Piasente said it was important his side bounced back quickly after last week’s defeat to Churchill.
“If we hadn’t won we would be in a bit of a position back in the pack,” he said.
“We knew Heyfield was playing some good football and the game was well played by both sides.”
Heyfield coach Josh Stubbe said the loss was a “tough one to swallow”.
“We had one rotation left for the last 15 minutes and that probably cost us the game,” Stubbe said.
“City is a tough opponent and our guys battled all day. It gives us a good indication of where we’re at and we were right there with them, which was pleasing.”
An injury to Daniel Stevens proved costly in more ways than one, with his direct opponent Schuback kicking three of his goals after Stevens left the ground.
Ben Chivers, Harrison Kaandorp and Brad McKay were standouts for Sale City.
James Beha, Justin Cox and Scott Anderson were best for the home side, while Jesse Beha impressed with two goals and strong hands in his first senior game for the club.
The defeat was a blow to Heyfield’s hopes of a top-three finish, but the performance gave the ladder-leading Bulldogs and the rest of the competition a timely reminder they remain a team to watch.
YARRAM regained fourth spot on the ladder, with an 18.16 (124) to 10.17 (77) win against Cowwarr.
The Demons led at every change and were worthy winners, even if the margin was inflated by the visitors’ inaccuracy in front of goal.
Ryan Underwood finished with six goals and Corbin Sutherland four, with Matt Clavarino and Jay McDonald among the other standout performers.
Brian McBride played a lone hand up forward for the Saints with five goals, while Shane Morgan, Simon Ferguson and Pat Tainsh were in the best.
WOODSIDE celebrated NAIDOC Week and the role of Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place and Indigenous people within its club and community, with a 61-point win against Traralgon-Tyers United.
Five goals each to Cameron Whiteoak and Rob Michaelides led the Wildcats to a 21.16 (142) to 12.9 (81) win.
Keegan Dingo, Ben Johnson and Gavin Stevenson also impressed.
Jesse Krekelberg, Brad Hough and Jacob Albanese were best for the Bombers.
REIGNING premier Rosedale found some form when it crushed Gormandale by 136 points.
Despite being vandalised the previous week, Rosedale Recreation Reserve was declared fit for play after a power of work by club volunteers and the home side showed their appreciation with a 21.22 (148) to 1.6 (12) victory.
League leading goal-kicker Brandon McDonald booted six goals and Jack Tatterson four, while Rohan Diamond, Matt Royal and Richard Ingrouille dominated for the Blues, who kept in touch with the top five.
Tyson Kavanagh, Jack Rankcom and Jarryd Garlick battled hard for the Tigers.
RETURNING forward Michael Santo led Churchill to a comfortable victory against Glengarry.
The former Warragul Industrials goal machine bagged a handful in his second senior appearance of the season as the Cougars defeated the Magpies 15.23 (113) to 8.14 (62).
Travis Brighton, Chris Williams and Lucas Towns continued their stellar recent form, while Luke Brereton also performed well for Churchill.
Travis Patten booted three goals for Glengarry, with Jake Frith, Chris Wangman and Ben Truin prominent.