HEATHCOTE’S football season ended on Saturday much the same way it started — with a whopping defeat.
Just as North Bendigo humbled the Saints in round one, by 187 points, another experienced side in Huntly tore them apart to close the season, the Hawks winning by 107 points.
It ended a somewhat positive season for the Saints, having improved from one win in 2016 to four wins this season and moving up to seventh on the Heathcote and District Football League ladder.
‘‘It wasn’t great but it’s not a bad result in the end,’’ Saints’ coach Luke Bell said of the season.
‘‘A lot of people around the league expected us to be easy-beats, but we proved in a lot of games to be highly competitive.
‘‘We had three wins in the first half of the season but in the second half we saw a bit of a drop-off.’’
The final game of the season saw a competitive start from Heathcote, against a Hawks’ line-up looking to tune up for the next weekend’s finals.
The Saints created chances to score and weren’t outclassed, but trailed 2.3 (15) to 4.4 (28) at quarter-time.
But Huntly, fresh off another monster win against Elmore, clicked into gear and found seven goals in the second quarter to lead by 51 points.
Heathcote lifted to take the challenge up to the Hawks in the third but were still outscored and trailed by 68 points going into the final quarter.
in the final term to run away with the massive win, 24.16 (160) to 7.11 (53).
The Hawks’ balance and multiple weapons up forward were on show with 10 different goalkickers, Ryan Semmel getting back to his best with five.
‘‘It blew out a bit in the end, we were in the contest for two and a half quarters, but halfway through the third we fell away,’’ Bell said.
‘‘At the stoppages we didn’t let them get the flow they were looking for. We made it a scrap and didn’t let them get their kicking and running game going.
‘‘We dropped off around the contest and they moved the ball better, and that’s hard to stop.
‘‘They’re a highly skilled outfit and when they get the time to use the ball they will cut you up.’’
For Heathcote, Luke Podhajski continued strong goalkicking form with three, while Louis Piccolo was the side’s best and kicked a goal to go with the display.
Jake Condon, Toby Allen, Alex McIvor, Lincoln Frost and Carl Obst were others to impress for the Saints.
It was always expected to be a tough season for the Saints, the side still looking to return to the HDFL finals for the first time since 2013.
They were beaten by more than 100 points four times, but continued to bring effort and compete against the better sides.
The four wins, highlighted by a 47-point triumph against Lockington-Bamawm United, show solid progression from the Saints and is a solid platform to launch a finals tilt next season.
Dropping off in the second half of the season was not a surprise, a lot of players struggling with little senior football experience before this season.
Bell, who will remain at the helm in 2018, said the side would take a positive view of this season and use it as a building block for the next one.
‘‘We’ll certainly take the positives out of the year; we won one game last year and lost something like 19 players from that side,’’ he said.
‘‘To have that sort of turnover and still win four games is a positive.
‘‘Obviously our main goal next season is finals, but we’ve now got a much better idea of what we’ve got and what we need to get.
‘‘It’s a good starting point, and we’ll need a bigger pre-season than this year.’’