PREMIERSHIP contender Jindera has awoken from its early season slumber to outlast league heavyweight Henty by 14 points at Henty on Saturday.
Widely touted as the pre-season flag favourite after the arrival of Matt McDonald, Ben Dower, Isaac Pound and Zac Stuart over the summer, pressure was starting to mount on the Bulldogs’ finals credentials after opening the season with consecutive losses against Holbrook and Brock-Burrum.
Desperate to get its season back on track, Jindera clung to a handy 18-point buffer at the final change with McDonald, Pound and Stuart leading the charge for the visitors.
Henty staged a spirited comeback as Heath Ohlin and Simon Hillier gathered some important touches to get the Swampies to within one point with less than 10 minutes remaining.
But the Bulldogs were able to hold their nerve when challenged to kick the final two goals of the match including the sealer to Des Kennedy medallist Brett Garland.
Jindera coach Josh Walker, who is expected to coach from the sidelines to at least round 10 with a fractured knee cap, labelled the victory as season defining.
“It was good to get the monkey off the back to be honest,” Walker said.
“Obviously there was a bit of hype surrounding us at the start of the year and we didn’t get off to the start we wanted.
“It was a crucial win because internally we felt if we could get that first win on the board it would help relieve some of the pressure.
“Henty are one of those sides that are capable of getting a run on and blowing open a contest in a quarter of footy.
“So to respond the way we did when challenged in that last quarter was quite pleasing.
“It was only our third game of the season but with the tight nature of the competition it gives you a bit of confidence being 1-2 instead of 0-3.”
Henty sorely missed tall marking targets Shannon Terlich and Jason Brown who were unavailable.
The Swampies suffered a further blow when Ryan Hon left the field shortly before half-time and failed to return.
Last year’s preliminary finalists struggled to kick a winning score without their three main avenues to goal but all three should be available for this week’s match against Holbrook.
Jindera’s leading goalkicker for the past two seasons Ash Murray played his first game this year after a limited pre-season and bagged two goals.
In other matches Lockhart and Howlong fought out a thrilling draw while Osborne proved too strong for CDHBU.
Defending premier Brock-Burrum thumped Holbrook by 57 points and Culcairn notched its second win of the season against Murray Magpies.