The 2018 Riddell League football season kicked off on Saturday with a frenetic, pulsating encounter as reigning premier Macedon survived a desperate late charge by Riddell to win by a solitary point.
The see-saw match before a massive opening round crowd at Riddell certainly lived up to expectations, with both sides showing they have the talent necessary to earn a finals berth.
The Cats went home happy with a pleased new coach Ben Tankard believing his side can improve in several areas; in contrast Bomber coach Jamie Elliott lamented about ‘the one that got away’.
Tankard said concentration lapses in the third term set his side a task as Riddell slammed on five goals to one, but the Cats’ four goals in the first 10 minutes of the last quarter was a great response.
“We did a lot wrong, I’m not getting too carried away,” Tankard said.
Elliott did not hold back when speaking to his players after the match, delivering some home truths.
While he was happy with his players’ efforts, he told them they “have to get away from schoolboy football” pointing to the goals Macedon ended up with as a result of indiscretions and lack of discipline.
The Cats made the most of several 50-metre penalties during the match and there was plenty of ‘heat’ among players at times.
Mistakes were aplenty, including out of bounds on the full, and a brief skirmish behind the play in the opening minute showed both sides were keyed up to get a win on the board.
After an even first term, Macedon drew clear before Bomber skipper Haydn Ross kicked an angled goal just before half-time to cut the deficit to 11 points.
Riddell dominated the third term, stunning their opponents with five goals to lead by 13 points at the last change.
Kicking to the scoring end, Macedon turned up the heat with key forward Matt Knox marking twice for majors. An inspiring pack mark by Chris Kilmartin stretched the Cats’ lead.
With the clock ticking down, spectators became increasingly vocal as Riddell made a charge, and two late goals cut the margin to a point.
In the last 90 seconds, the ball was deep in Riddell’s congested forward line for most of the time, but Macedon managed to hang on for a 12.7 to 11.12 victory.
Macedon’s versatile utility Matthew Dick was voted best afield, while Ross (five goals) and Michael Salhberg were among the Bombers’ best.
An injury to star Cat Daniel Markworth late in the game will be monitored this week.
Earlier, Riddell Reserves swept to an impressive 19.12 to 6.1 victory.
In the other Saturday match in the split round, last season’s runner-up Rupertswood ran away in the second half to easily defeat Sunbury Kangaroos.
On Sunday, Woodend-Hesket fielded nine new players and kicked nine goals in the last quarter to defeat Lancedfield 20.11 (131) to 4.6 (30).
There is expected to be a large crowd at Romsey on Saturday night, as the Redbacks take on Diggers Rest in the last game of the split round.
Both these sides have finals aspirations.