Kinglake's Josh Nixon kicks away. PHOTO: Ashley Geelan/VicNews

Kinglake held off an attempted final-quarter comeback from Old Eltham Collegians to claim an eight-point win and maintain their unbeaten record at Kinglake Memorial Oval in the 2023 Northern Football Netball League’s Division 3 season.

The Lakers scored five goals in the opening term and were able to keep their lead throughout the match despite the Turtles getting to within single digits on multiple occasions.

Still, the hosts excelled long enough to win 11.13 (79) to 10.11 (71) and keep their one-game gap on top of the ladder intact.

Old Eltham Collegians meanwhile still linger outside the top four in fifth spot but are on the same points as Heidelberg West in the fourth position.

Jed Tyrrell was impressive for the home side, taking on the game through the middle, and kicking two majors for his side.

Meanwhile, Leigh Gilbert’s brilliant goal-kicking form continued into another week, kicking six goals in a game for the third time in 2023. He has now slotted home 26 majors in his last three matches.

At the other end, Benjamin White stood strong against a fierce Old Eltham Collegians forward line and had an impact in limiting the visitors’ shots on goal throughout the match.

For the Turtles, Angus Robertson was the stand-out player throughout the game.

His defensive efforts stopped the deficit from blowing out further at times, with his strong tackling and intercept efforts a great highlight.

Matthew Williamson was the top goal kicker for the visitors with four majors and has now taken his 2023 tally to 55 majors.

His ability to burst through a pack of Lakers defenders and take strong marks allowed him to produce many opportunities in front of goal, while his offensive pressure played a role in his side’s final-term comeback.

Jack Fitzgerald was another key member of the Old Eltham Collegians outfit, fighting hard throughout the match to keep his team in the contest.

A high-pressure first quarter saw Kinglake pull ahead to a sizeable lead as the Turtles struggled to get the ball out of their defensive 50.

Leigh Gilbert got things going just moments after the opening siren with his first major before Nick Snowdon answered back for the away side.

The level scoreline was quickly tipped back into the Lakers’ favour with another goal from Gilbert as well as majors from Joseph Slattery and Rory McIntyre.

McIntyre’s second major came after a Jay Smith goal, and it allowed the hosts to have control of the game, leading by 21 at the first break.

Old Eltham Collegians came out for the second quarter with a renewed sense of urgency and drive for the ball.

Nick Snowden and Benjamin Cox were standouts for the Turtles, moving the ball fluidly through the middle to put the Lakers defence on the back foot.

Williamson was dominant in the forward line, taking four inside 50 marks and kicking three goals for the quarter.

But the Lakers could hold onto their lead going into the half-time break, as two goals from Gilbert kept the home side safe from the surging Turtles.

Ahead by eight points heading into the second half, the ladder leaders put the foot down, keeping Old Eltham Collegians goalless while registering eight scoring shots themselves.

Ethan Robinson and Matthew Langford were impactful in the hosts’ burst, while Jed Tyrrell was dangerous in front of the goals, kicking two of the Lakers’ three majors for the quarter.

But the margin could have extended further if it hadn’t been for some great defensive efforts by Old Eltham Collegians.

Nathan Byatt and Matthew Keys were important, taking multiple intercept marks and causing turnovers from their opposition, while also working hard was Jeremy Murphy. He applied pressure to the home team and ensured that not every movement forward by the Lakers was an easy one.

It wasn’t enough however to stop Kinglake from posting a comfortable 28-point lead into the final term.

But the Turtles had one final surge in them during the last quarter and came out with a hunger to get on top of the Lakers.

Their ball movement was much more fluid, and the game was played predominantly in their forward 50.

Benjamin Cox was a key player for the side, and goals from Matthew Williamson, Jay Smith and Nicholas Milne kept Matthew Sleeman’s men in the game.

The Lakers, however, were eventually victorious, thanks to some brilliant efforts from multiple players around the ground.

Rohan King and Ethan Robinson produced some tremendous pressure with Benjamin White also a standout in the defensive 50.

Old Eltham Collegians produced eight scoring shots in the last term and kicked four goals to one but couldn’t find the extra score to grab the lead, going down by eight points in a gallant effort away from home.

KINGLAKE:  5.4   7.6    10.11   11.13 (79)
GOALS: L. Gilbert 6, R. McIntyre 2, J. Tyrrell 2, J. Slattery.
BEST: J. Tyrrell, L. Gilbert, B. White, J. Slattery, B. Robinson, R. McIntyre.

OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS:   2.1   6.4   6.7    10.11 (71)
GOALS: M. Williamson 4, J. Smith 3, B. Cox, N. Milne, N. Snowdon.
BEST: A. Robertson, M. Williamson, J. Fitzgerald, J. Smith, N. Snowdon, D. Cartisano.

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