NEAFL: Ainslie v Belconnen
Belconnen's James Bennett grabs the ball. Photo: Graham Tidy
The AFL has no plans to change the name of the James Hird Cup, despite 34 past-and-present Essendon players receiving show-cause notices during the week for the supplements regime that was in place at the Bombers in 2012 when Hird was coaching the club.
"We won't change [the name] at the moment. I would hate to speculate that if something did happen we'd change," AFL NSW-ACT manager South Coast-ACT Steve Maher said.
"We just need to let it play its course and see what happens. He was a very good player for Ainslie and went on to play at the highest level and that's what we're recognising."
Nick Salter led Hird's former club to a gutsy 25-point victory over Belconnen - 11.13 (79) to 7.12 (54) - at Kippax on Saturday.
Ainslie's ability to hit a target up forward, usually Salter, proved the difference as the two teams' midfields slogged it out in the mud.
Both rucks, Mitchell Mulroney for the Tricolours and Matthew Porter for the Magpies, engaged in a great battle, with Belco's midfield general James Bennett his usual prolific self, while Ainslie's Aaron Vandenberg, Ian Lawless and Sean Ellis were everywhere.
Scores were level at quarter-time before Belconnen edged out to a five-point lead at the main break.
But after half-time, Ainslie's forward line slowly started to click.
There were brief injury concerns for defender Shaun Campbell when he limped off with a corky, but he returned to kick a great checkside goal - Ainslie's last of the game.
Salter, who joined Ainslie after being delisted by Port Adelaide last year, said he was enjoying the move to Canberra and was planning to remain at the club beyond the end of the season.
"We knew they were going to have a crack; we put all our emphasis into that; we focused on that," Salter said.
"They spread pretty hard, they're a good side. I think they're better than where they are on the ladder.
"They probably just need a couple of key position players and they'll be all right."
While Ainslie was able to repeatedly isolate Salter in a one-on-one battle with Belconnen defender Chris Yorke, the Magpies' forward line seemed to be always crowded, allowing the likes of Ainslie captain Rob Tuohey to avert any danger.
Belconnen playing-coach Jeremy Rowe also thought his team wasn't able to seize the big moments in the game, unlike the visitors.
"I thought the only things that separated the sides was when they were going forward they got the ball in long and deep to advantage and one-on-one contests and our guys lowered their eyes and tried to hit up the short 50-50," Rowe said.
"That really hurt us ... and the second thing was they really stood up in the moments that mattered in that third quarter. They were able to hit the scoreboard hard and we were found in an 'almost position'."
Ainslie was the only Canberra team to win, with Eastlake losing by five goals to Sydney Hills Eagles in Sydney and Southport thrashing Queanbeyan by 111 points on the Gold Coast.
AT A GLANCE
Sydney Hills Eagles 1.5 4.9 10.12 12.13 (85)
Eastlake 1.3 1.7 4.8 7.13 (55)
Goals - Eagles: A. McConnell 2, A. Browning , T. Garlick , M. Weekes , J. Vlatko , T. Stubbs , J. Vlatko , S. Reed , D. Bonney , K. Emery , J. Dimery. Eastlake: A. Pocock 4, D. Biermann , H. Armstrong , B. Cleaver.
Best - Eagles: J. Ferguson, A. McConnell, D. Bonney, A. Browning, M. Riseley, T. Stubbs. Eastlake: D. Cummins, B. Cleaver, W. Crowder, A. Pocock, D. Biermann, G. McMahon.
Southport 5.4 11.6 17.8 23.10 (148)
Queanbeyan 0.1 1.3 3.6 5.7 (37)
Goals - Southport: J. Goldsmith 6, J. Baxter 5, E. Mallan 3, S. Haslem 2, B. Wells 2, F. Pope , M. Collison , A. Clarke , K. Geary , Z. Callinan. Queanbeyan: J. Atkinson 2, D. Johnson , N. Hull , S. Adams.
Best - Southport: E. Mallan, J. Burge, J. Goldsmith, J. Baxter, B. Headland, W. Wolbers. Queanbeyan: K. Klemke, J. Atkinson, B. King, M. Bernasconi.
Belconnen 3.3 5.5 6.11 7.12 (54)
Ainslie 3.3 4.6 8.10 11.13 (79)
Goals - Belconnen: B. Joyce 2, D. Posch , J. Harper , J. Bennett , D. Jordan , T. Alexander. Ainslie: N. Salter 5, S. Ellis 2, E. Stone , N. Heyne , L. O''Neill , S. Campbell.
Best - Belconnen: J. Bennett, D. Hector, A. Bennett, J. Harper, D. Jordan, M. Porter. Ainslie: S. Ellis, S. Campbell, D. Bowles, C. Bernasconi, R. Tuohey, I. Lawless.