STRATFORD held its nerve to defeat Boisdale-Briagolong by seven points during the opening round of East Gippsland football.
The Swans won 11.9 (75) to 10.8 (68) at home on Saturday.
The Swans took the lead early, and seemed to be in a comfortable place at half-time.
Two free kicks to Rodney O’Keefe following an altercation on the forward line kept Stratford well in front, until the Bombers woke up in the third term.
Boisdale-Briagolong hit the lead, nudging forwards by a goal, but the Swans kept up the pressure.
Right until the end, the game was hard-fought, with plenty of tackling, though inaccurate kicking took its toll on both sides.
Lewis Bolton put in a solid effort, tackling players three times his size in the midfield, and was named best-on-ground, followed by Nathan Pollard.
The goal kicking was spread evenly, with two each to Pollard, Patrick Gordon, Jack Bacon, and O’Keefe.
For the Bombers, Danny Pratt stood out with his three goals, and Brendon Rathnow was named best.
Stratford coach Peter Morrison said it was a great start to the season.
“They threw everything at us and we just kept coming,” he said.
“I think defensively we were just a bit better than them, and Lewis Bolton on half-back just played an extraordinary game.
“Jack Bacon really showed what he can do, you rely on your better players late, and we were two or three (goals) down and we got there — and Rodney O’Keefe was remarkable one-on-one up forward.”
Seagulls upset EGFNL premiers
EAST Gippsland football premier Lindenow was upset by Lakes Entrance 17.9 (111) to 6.12 (48).
Seagull Tom Smith kicked six goals in a best-on-ground performance, aided by Lucky Whelan with four.
The Cats were shell-shocked from the beginning, kicking just a single goal in the first quarter, as Lakes roared ahead.
In the final term, Lakes Entrance piled on 6.3 to Lindenow’s 1.4.
Kane Ashwood, who kicked two goals, was best for Lindenow.
WY Yung was too strong for Lucknow, defeating the Magpies 13.5 (83) to 5.8 (35).
Lucknow was kept to just two points in the third term.
Daniel Perrin was the stand-out for the Tigers, with seven goals, and Ryan Ladson was best-on-ground.
Jesse Glassborow was best for Lucknow.
PAYNESVILLE got its season off to a good start, shrugging off last year’s bad luck to defeat Orbost-Snowy Rovers 12.16 (88) to 9.12 (66).
The match was close until half-time, before Paynesville began to take off.
Riley Horton was the leading goal kicker, with four, but there were some familiar names in the goal kickers list for the Gulls, which shows how the team is developing. Lachlan McDonald stood out as best-on-ground.
Hamish Nettleton kicked three for the Blues, and Kieran Vickery was their best.