FOR the first time in 2019 the Heathcote faithful were able to enjoy a football match at Pigeon Park as the Saints hosted last year’s Heathcote District Football League premiers Leitchville-Gunbower on Saturday.
After the disappointment of the previous week the players remained positive and worked hard at training to prepare for the match.
Heathcote lost Ty Primmer in the warm-ups. Cody Wright got the call up as a late replacement, just before the match started, and he competed strongly for the Saints all day.
Heathcote dominated early, and unlike previous matches, made every kick at goal count.
The on-ball division was getting first touch and the defensive work of the team across the ground was frustrating the visitors, who were looking to run with the ball.
When the siren sounded to finish the first term the Saints led by 10 points, with four straight goals to show for their efforts.
Leitchville-Gunbower took control in the second term and Heathcote’s play was indifferent, which allowed the Bombers to kick 4.3 in that time.
If not for the defensive work of the back six the score-line would have been far worse.
Codie Price was once again brilliant and Ben Connelly let nothing past him but the Bombers were continually bombing it up forward.
The half-time break allowed the coaching panel to steady the team and get them to come out for a big third term.
It was a different team that ran back out onto the ground and once again the Saints were continually driving the ball forward to Jordan Cavallaro, Louie Piccolo and Brad Morgan.
Not only did these players provide leading targets but their ferocious tackling had the Bombers’ defenders rushing their kicks.
With Tom Pain and Jack Paisley working hard in around the packs the Saints once again repeatedly sent the ball forward.
Unfortunately poor kicking robbed the team of any advantage, kicking 3.5 to Leitchville’s 4.3 to trail by 10 points at the final change.
It was a frenetic first few minutes as both teams understood what was on the line, but the visitors had two marking options up forward.
They provided their team with critical goals early and Heathcote trailed by three goals as the quarter began to wind up.
Demonstrating their resilience and improved fitness the Saints continued to drive the ball forward. Suddenly two quick goals saw the margin reduced to five points, and with under a minute to go, and an unlikely victory appeared possible.
It all came down to the ball up.
If Heathcote won the central clearance it was a goal and a victory.
However, it was Leitchville’s and a kick after the siren saw them take the match by six points.
It was another close result for the Saints and they gave the home crowd every reason to feel a victory is around the corner.
Quite rightly coach Wayne Primmer was proud of the efforts of his charges, because three goals down late in the term could have easily blown out but this team is showing every week it is made of sterner stuff.
After the bye it will need to bring its best as it tackles a powerful White Hills on its own turf but the team will drive into the ground with confidence.
BUT IF THE SIREN sounded too soon for the seniors, it was a different story for the thirds.
Leitchville-Gunbower’s under 17 team looked to have the match won with minutes to go.
After starting strongly Heathcote had dropped away late in the third and early in the last terms, which gave the Bombers a chance to slam on a sequence of goals.
Late in the final term they extended their lead to three goals and the Saints looked spent.
But drawing on everything they had, the home team began to take control of the game and the Bombers had no answers for the renewed Saints.
Quick goals by Heathcote saw them down by six points with moments to go and then another goal, just before the siren, saw them tie the scores.
Or so it appeared.
After conferring the goal umpires agreed the score was wrong and Heathcote had in fact won the match by a point, starting a deserved excited celebration on and off the field.