SALE City took a half to overcome Heyfield as the Bulldogs began their quest for a third consecutive North Gippsland football premiership, with a 52-point win.
Leading by only five points at half-time, the Bulldogs kicked nine goals to two in the second half to win 15.14 (104) to 7.10 (52) at Stephenson Park.
The young Kangaroos, hit by off-season departures, pushed the Bulldogs, but the premiers took control of the match when they minimised mistakes.
The City midfield, including new coach Jacob Schuback and Josh Tollner, ran rampant during the second half, while captain Ben Chivers was dangerous across the ground.
Matt Bedggood and Jack Woodland stood-out for the Kangaroos in the midfield, while Nick Ierardi displayed energy in the forward line.
The challenge was made early, with goals from Max Gravener and Matt Millar giving Heyfield a 10-point lead five minutes into the match, before back-to-back goals from Schuback put the Bulldogs in front.
The Kangaroos were applying good pressure, and running hard with the ball in the warm conditions.
The visitors missed chances to reclaim the lead. With scores level, Matt Walsh kicked a goal to restore City’s lead.
Ieradi kicked a great goal on the run to cut the deficit to a point late in the first quarter.
Such was the pressure, the umpire showed yellow cards to Chivers and Heyfield opponent James Driffield for a scuffle, giving them both 15 minutes to cool their heels.
Will Kelly was particularly good for the Kangaroos in the midfield.
Leading by a point at the first break, Sale City looked liked running away with the game in the second quarter, only for Heyfield to respond strongly.
A Justin McLay centre clearance to begin the quarter found Stuart Buckley, who kicked his first goal for the day. Four minutes later, the Bulldogs worked the ball around, finding Bohdi Walker, whose goal extended the margin to 13 points.
On the end of a good play down the wing, Jason Garrett kicked a goal for the Kangaroos shortly after.
Buckley’s goal gave the Bulldogs an 11-point lead early in time-on, before Heyfield made the home side pay for a mistake through Brenton Dinsdale’s major.
The Bulldogs led by five points at half-time, but found itself a point down early in the third term after Gravener booted a goal. That would be the Kangaroos’ final goal of the quarter.
Two goals from Walker, and one each from Abe Schuback and Buckley gave the Bulldogs a 26-point advantage at the final change.
The Kangaroos kicked the first goal of the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs kicked away, booting the final five goals of the match.
Gormandale breaks its drought
GORMANDALE won its first match in 707 days, to kick-start its North Gippsland football season in the best way possible.
The Tigers, boosted by a strong off-season recruiting drive, defeated Cowwarr by 56 points on Saturday night in Traralgon. The 12.12 (84) to 4.4 (28) win was the Tigers’ first victory since April 20, 2016.
Gormandale’s defence, led by best-on-ground Ryan Burns, was solid, conceding two goals in the first quarter, then only one for the each of the following terms.
The Tigers were on their way by half-time, when they led by 26 points, before kicking five goals in the second half.
Josh Jennings was outstanding in the midfield, kicking three goals, as did Joseph Colaciello.
Shane Morgan was Cowwarr’s best player.
The victory was enough to put Gormandale on top of the ladder on percentage, but it will face a sterner test this weekend against Yarram.
EARLIER in the day, Traralgon-Tyers United won at Glengarry, 8.12 (60) to 5.6 (36).
The 24-point final margin perhaps flattered the Magpies, as the Bombers kicked eight goals from 20 scoring shots.
Simon Noy and Bill Morrison led the way for the Bombers.
Travis Patten kicked three of the Magpies’ five goals, with recruit Hayden Britten.