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North Geelong held off a gallant Bannockburn side to deliver a hard-fought seven-point victory at Keith Barclay Oval.

The club is now nearing the end of a heavy running program that commenced in May. Coach Darren Ryan sending a warning to all challengers to the Magpie premiership defence, declaring it is still building to its best form.

“I still think we’re three weeks away from playing our best football.” Ryan said.

“We went and trained at Elite Fitness on Tuesday night ... we really smashed them, but that’s what we wanted to do, we know these are the things we have to do.”

The Magpies trailed at several stages throughout the match but prevailed when it mattered most. Ryan was extremely proud of his charges post-match reiterating the supreme confidence and belief the side boasts.

“I was rapt, I was really proud of our 22 blokes.”

“I’ve got full confidence in them, like I said it’s not just talent it’s about caring for each other and what you’re prepared to do for someone else.”

 “Our guys constantly work hard for each other; I’m privileged to coach them.”

Adding to the North Geelong juggernaut is the upcoming inclusions set to return to senior football. Goal kicking machine Paul Breguet is expected to hit the field in the next fortnight while a host of other key names in Jonathan Woods, Ben Bryant and Andrew Fergusson are also building to peak fitness – all capable of making an imprint on this year’s finals series for the Magpies.

PJ DiSanto’s class was on full display in what was a polished performance along with Luke Van Krieken who was influential and found plenty of the ball. While Leigh Hardman and Lachie Wright were fantastic in the clinches on a day that saw many stoppages.

North Geelong was potent early, kicking the first four goals as the tall timber of Sam Clark and Jamie Pitman loomed large with three goals between them. The Tigers kicked two of the next three to trail by 19 points at the first change.

The second term belonged to the visitors as the Tiger midfield gained the ascendancy to produce a five goal to one quarter, storming into half-time with a one goal advantage.

The next twenty minutes proved to be an arm wrestle in the slippery conditions with just a goal each in the early stages. However a flourish of three straight goals to North Geelong saw it swing the momentum and in turn hold an 11-point lead at three quarter-time.

Bannockburn refused to go away, kicking the first two majors of the last to muster a two-point lead. But it was not to be as Jamie Pitman was the beneficiary of a free kick in attack; he converted from 30 metres for what would prove to be the match winning goal.

Daniel Short

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