The Northern Blues bounced back on Sunday afternoon in fine fashion, defeating the Coburg Lions by 18 points at Preston City Oval in the 156th Battle of Bell Street.
After consecutive losses in the last fortnight, Northern returned to the winner’s list with a strong performance, coming away with a 14.15 (99) to 13.4 (82) win.
Had it not been for a run of six straight goals to close the match, it would’ve been an even more convincing win for Northern on the scoreboard.
With Northern wearing the Bullant for the first time in eight years, Northern dominated possession with the breeze at their backs at Preston City Oval. Wasted opportunities rendered the Blues goalless until halfway through the opening term, as the Blues settled and gained composure thanks to a Jesse Palmer goal.
After leading at the first change, Northern were forced to withstand a resurgent Coburg in the second, whose running game through the corridor poses significant threat. Five second-quarter goals to the Lions saw the visitors take the lead, before a late goal to Sunny Brazier saw the Blues finish the half four points ahead.
The second half started in much better fashion for Northern, with better skill distribution and ball movement in attack giving the Blues forwards first opportunity to put pressure on the scoreboard.
Two goals in as many minutes for Andrew Phillips - who was a key threat in the air - gave Northern some breathing room and put them in the box seat going into the final term.
It was much the same in the final term, with an efficient Northern kicking away to a game-high 52-point lead. Coburg fought back in the dying stages to add some respectability to the scoreboard, but the Blues had done enough to record their fifth win of the season.
Alex Johnson’s much-awaited return was a welcome sight for the Northern Blues, contributing 13 disposals and more importantly getting through the game unscathed. Tom De Koning also returned from injury and showed some encouraging signs, playing predominantly up forward with stints in the ruck.
Hugh Goddard put in another defensive masterclass, with his contested and intercept marking once again a feature in a performance which yielded 22 disposals and 12 marks.
Matthew Lobbe put in a dominant performance in the ruck with 20 disposals and 27 hitouts, setting the tone from the outset by giving Northern’s midfield a good look around stoppages.
Matthew Kennedy (30 disposals and a goal) and Jonathan O’Rourke (23 disposals) were the main benefactors, while Alex Fasolo was another solid contributor with 20 disposals going through the middle.
The Northern Blues will look to build on its return to winning form next Saturday when they come up against Footscray in round 11 at Ikon Park.
NORTHERN BLUES 3.4 6.6 10.12 14.15 (99)
COBURG LIONS 1.0 6.2 7.3 13.4 (82)
GOALS: Phillips 3, Brazier 2, Cottrell 2, Palmer 2, Fisher, Kennedy, Kerr, Owies, Polson
BESTS: Goddard, Kennedy, O’Rourke, Fasolo, Cottrell, Garlett