On a day where everything fell into place for the Blues, they led the game from start to finish in a crushing demolition of Bendigo. The Gold were outclassed in every facet of the game which saw the Blues storm to a 100-point victory.
The midfield dominance of the Blues was a highlight with the Gold having no answer as ruckman Robbie Warnock did as he pleased around the ground, getting first hand on the footy with 53 hit-outs, and David Ellard contributing heavily with 38 touches (17 in the first half). Warnock’s monopoly in the ruck gave the Blues the ascendancy in the middle of the ground as they comprehensively won the centre clearances 20-11 and around the ground stoppages 34-20.
The Gold, despite having lost 11 out of the past 14 encounters including the 2011 elimination final against the Blues, found themselves the favourites heading into the game due to promising early season form. This was mostly on the back of strong performances from Essendon-listed players, many of whom who were unavailable to face the Blues due to injury or being rested.
With three narrow losses, it was the Blues who were feeling the heavy weight of expectation prior to the first bounce. However, in what was undoubtedly the best display of football by the Blues this season, they silenced their critics and hammered home six first quarter goals to set up a match-winning 32-point lead at the first change.
Backman Paul DiRago was a surprise starter up forward and proved he can add an extra dimension in attack as he booted three first half goals including an opportunistic over-the-shoulder snap during the first quarter onslaught.
Bendigo provided some stiffer competition in the early stages of the second term, though the closest the Gold would get after quarter-time was when they twice cut the deficit to 26 points. The Northern boys were tough, uncompromising and first to the ball, providing the forward line with A-grade delivery as they added another five goals before halftime. Ellard was finding the football with ease, and Bendigo were having difficulty quelling the influences of young-gun Adam Marcon and Carlton-listed Nick Heyne.
With the margin blowing out to 71 points in the third term, Rohan Kerr joined the party with three majors, while Myles Dorman was at his damaging best. Aaron Joseph once again provided electrifying run and carry out of defence and when Brent Bransgrove stormed into the open goal from just inside the paint of the 50 metre arc to kick his first, the Blues were home and in no danger of coughing up a match-winning lead like they had done in weeks gone by.
With victory in sight for the first time in 2012, there was no complacency from the Blues as they continued to pepper the goals in the final quarter, entering attacking 50 double the amount of times as their opponent. They piled on another ten scoring shots to two in the final term as the margin reached three figures for the Blues moments before the final siren.
Northern Blues - 21.21 (147) def Bendigo Gold - 7.5 (47)
Goals: Dorman, Thomas, Kerr, DiRago 3, Bransgrove, Marcon, Warnock 2, Collins, Wilson and Lincoln 1.