David Polkinghorne August 05, 2012
Ainslie's Jack Mahoney clears the ball from Eastlake's Ben Maiden. Photo: Graham Tidy
When the heat goes on, Eastlake goes missing, its coach Anthony Bourke has claimed.
The Demons mentor was left scratching his head after his side was comprehensively outplayed by Ainslie during the third quarter of yesterday's NEAFL clash and eventually lost by just 11 points, 14.8 (92) to 13.3 (81).
Eastlake had the better of the first half, leading by nine points in a bruising encounter, but the Tricolours came flying out of the blocks in the second stanza, kicking seven goals to two in the third term.
The Demons responded in the last quarter but the damage had been done, although they still had their chances in the final term.
At the 27-minute mark, Eastlake forward Tim Gray was lining up for goal directly in front and 50 metres out, to reduce the margin to just five points.
But Aaron Bruce was penalised for some innocuous contact in the goal square and a free kick was awarded to Ainslie instead.
The Tricolours held on for the final four minutes to record a win that intensifies the battle for third place on the NEAFL eastern conference ladder.
Ainslie’s Nic Paine kicked four, while Ken McGregor and Simon Horner both booted three.
Bourke said his team went into its shell in the third quarter and didn’t return to its free-flowing footy until the game was all but over.
‘‘It’s being able to do that under pressure, and I think we struggle to do that under pressure at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘Good sides – Belconnen put us under pressure, Queanbeyan put us under pressure and Ainslie did it today and we just don’t perform under pressure at the moment.’’
Ainslie’s win means it’s now level with Eastlake and Sydney Hills Eagles on 40 premiership points, with only percentage separating the three with just two rounds remaining before finals.
The Demons currently sit third, which would earn them a double chance in the finals, while Ainslie is fourth, which would give them a home final of sorts against the Eagles at Manuka Oval.
Tricolours coach Chris Rourke was impressed with how his injury-depleted side responded in the third quarter – especially the midfield – after both Rowan Andrews and Aaron Vandenberg suffered potentially season-ending shoulder injuries in the first half.
‘‘I thought [Jack] Mahoney and [Ryan] Blundell and these blokes and our lesser lights [like Jeremy] Hirst started to give us a bit of run and attack the ball and had a bit more ferocity at the ball and won those one-on-one contests,’’ Rourke said.