A big final term saw the Northern Blues go down by 13 points to Footscray. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)
An undermanned Northern Blues suffered a heart-breaking 13-point loss to Footscray at Ikon Park today.
After what seemed to be a game-breaking third term from the Blues, the reigning premiers piled on six unanswered goals in the final term, resigning the Blues to a 10. 7. (67) to 12. 8. (80) loss.
In blustery conditions, a scrappy first quarter ensued, with both sides struggling to muster anything fruitful forward of centre.
The difference between both sides in the first term was ex-Carlton rookie Billy Gowers, whose two goals kept Footscray in front by five points heading into the second term.
The Blues forward line began to combine with the midfield a lot more efficiently in the second term, as a quick-fire double from dangerous forward Kristian Jaksch gave the Blues a narrow half-time lead.
A Ciaran Byrne inspired third term from the home side seemed to be the game changer, with the Blues holding firm in defence and continuing with their sharp forward movement.
They managed to to hold the Dogs to one goal while notching up five of their own, taking a 26-point lead at the final change.
A solitary moment soured the Blues’ day in the third quarter, with swingman Kane Keppel being stretchered off with what seemed to be a serious ankle injury.
The free flowing game imposed on the contest by the Blues came to halt in the final term, with Footscray shutting off all avenues to goal.
What seemed to be a match winning margin was soon whittled away. With the aid of a building breeze, Footscray piled on the pressure in the last quarter, amassing 21 inside 50s which led to a six goal to zero final term.
It handed the Blues a painful 13-point defeat, with Keppel, Byrne (getting through his schedule game time) and Jesse Glass-McCasker all on the bench in the last term through injury.
In three quarters, Byrne was prolific across half back, providing vital dash and link up play to notch up 27 disposals.
Captain Tom Wilson was the pick of the midfielders racking up 30 disposals, 12 marks and seven tackles.
NORTHERN BLUES 1.2 5.3 10.5 10. 7. (67)
FOOTSCRAY 2.1 5.1 6.3 12. 8. (80)
Northern Blues: Jaksch 4, Sumner 2, Ballard, Declase, Gallucci, Lebois