Burnside Heights may not have come away with the four points from its Essendon District Football League division 2 season opener, but it certainly came away with some respect.
It wasn’t until the final kick of the game – after the siren – that East Sunbury got grip of the Bears to seal their five-point win, 10.13 (73)-10.8 (68).
To put the result into perspective, look no further than last season – the Bears lost every match, with its closest margin 68 points, and the corresponding game against the Thunder last season downed the Bears by 20 goals.
Bears’ coach Aidan Stott said there were mixed feelings after the latest loss … pride in his side’s performance and what they’ve done in the off season, but shattered by the loss of a game there for the taking, with East Sunbury admitting they were lucky to get the win.
“It was an absolutely epic battle from start to finish,” Stott said.
“We led for the entire game, only going down with the final kick of the day … we suffered three game-ending injuries in the third quarter, and were left with just one rotation for the entire last quarter.
“We thought we out-played East Sunbury for the most part of the game, and really felt we should have won.”
Stott said players would learn from the result and had showed they wouldn’t be the same easy-beats they were last season.
Corey Patmore kicked three goals for the Bears, while sharpshooter Joshua Covelli kicked two in his first game for the club. Steven Soto and Jordan Agnoleto were named best for the Bears.
Stott said he was still unsure about the severity of injuries to Michael Krajina (ankle), Tegan Stott (knee) and Stephen Kenrick (calf), but was hopeful they would be fit to play this week.
The Bears face Roxburgh Park, which lost by a point to Moonee Valley.
In other division 2 matches, Keilor Park was thrashed by Northern Saints, relegated in the off season, 16.19 (115)–3.5 (23).
In premier division, Keilor started its title defence with a solid 14.7 (91)–10.10 (70) win over Essendon Doutta Stars.
David Gourdis kicked four goals in a best on ground performance.
The season kicks off for Hillside and Taylors Lakes this weekend, with round one matches on Good Friday; Hillside plays Hadfield, Taylors Lakes faces Airport West.