Tooradin-Dalmore is tantalisingly close to a first premiership in 25 years after the Seagulls booked the first ticket to the West Gippsland grand final with a magnificent second semifinal performance against Phillip Island.
The Seagulls were on shaky legs early – taking the Bulldogs best punch – but never hit the canvas…regaining their composure to score a meritorious 13.4.82 to 6.9.45 victory in front of a bumper crowd at Inverloch.
A glorious sunny day provided the perfect backdrop to the biggest game of the season so far, and the Bulldogs came out with some real intent.
Their tackling pressure was of the highest order, forcing the usually calm Seagulls into slight panic and error.
Goals to Billy Taylor, former Seagull Cam Brown, and Max Blake, got the Bulldogs off to the perfect start, and when Jordy Patullo took a courageous mark and kicked a bomb from the boundary – just a minute into the second quarter – the Doggies had a four-goal lead.
One question was buzzing around the Inverloch Rec Reserve.
Can the Seagulls respond?
The answer was a definitive yes, with Liam Adams and Stewart Scanlon snapping backto-back goals within two minutes of play to cut the margin back to 10.
Matt Livermore, who played a huge role through the midfield, then converted a set shot, before Taylor kicked a late one for the Doggies to give them a two-goal lead at the main interval.
Tooradin-Dalmore coach Lachie Gillespie made some crucial moves at half time, moving ruckman Piva Wright forward, and using spring-heeled back-ups Brad Butler and Jimmy Trezise in the ruck in an attempt to dull the imposing influence of Cam Pedersen.
The moves worked, with the Seagulls a different side in the third quarter and taking the game away from their opponents.
Brady Egan ran into an open goal at the start of the third, before star midfielder Brent Macaffer ignited the Gulls with a long bomb of substance.
Livermore then produced a quick step that Fred Astaire would be proud of – in heavy traffic – to give the Gulls the lead for the first time for the day.
It would be a lead they would never relinquish.
Egan kicked two more in the third term, taking the lead out to 15, before Jesse Patullo answered with a late one to give the Bulldogs some hope, just nine points down at the final change.
It took eight minutes for the dam wall to break, but when it did it cascaded quickly.
Steve Robb nailed a set shot, and when Scanlon snapped another the margin was out to 20.
Trezise then put his classy left foot to work, kicking the sealer at the 14-minute mark of the last quarter.
Youngster Xavier Shinners then put the icing on the cake, kicking two in three minutes to see the Seagulls finish off in style.
They now have the opportunity to claim their first piece of silverware since 1997.
Macaffer, a 2010 premiership player with Collingwood, was thrilled to be one step closer to breaking the lengthy drought.
“It’s amazing, we qualified in top spot and we’ve touched on it the last few weeks, about the history of the club and the rough years that some of the guys have been through – 25 years without a premiership is a long time,” Macaffer said after the match.
“You can see in the rooms how much it means to everyone around the club.
“I’ve been here not even 12 months, but you get caught up in it, it’s such a welcoming club and we just want to do it so bad for the club and the community at Tooradin.”
Macaffer said the Seagulls were not surprised by the Bulldogs opening burst.
“First of all, they’re an awesome side, they haven’t won the last two flags for no reason, they were minor premiers last year, so the challenge was enormous,” Macaffer said.
“They’ve got so much talent and Beau (Vernon) is one of my good mates, we grew up together, and he’s a super coach.
“In finals you’re not going to get everything go your way and they really came at us hard, but the pleasing thing was – and we spoke about it post-game – was we were able to adapt to what they were doing.
“To do that in a big final was pretty impressive, we got it back on our terms.”
After their sluggish start the Seagulls booted 13 of the last 15 goals, but Macaffer insisted despite the momentum change the contest was still intense.
“You could feel the momentum swinging, but at the same time it was still a grind,” he said.
“Every single contest, right up until the final siren, was intense and everybody was still cracking in.
“Being an 18-degree day, with the sun out, was also a different dynamic because we haven’t had that all year as well.
“It was a hot game, a tough game, and its going to be the same in two weeks’ time so it was good to be tested like that and get through it.”
Macaffer said the change in the ruck had a two-fold effect.
“They’re very good behind the ball and we just needed some representation forward of the ball, and Piva (Wright) is the biggest bloke in the league so there was no-one better to do it,” he explained.
“Those young blokes, Jimmy (Trezise) and Brad Butler, they’ve pinch-hitted throughout the year and they can both run and jump, but when the ball hits the ground, they’re like another midfielder the way they apply pressure.”
Macaffer, who has experienced the greatest high in the game, said winning a premiership with the Seagulls would be equally as satisfying.
“It’s the same feeling, that AFL grand final was 12 years ago now and I haven’t tasted it since, and I’m not getting any younger, I’m 34, so this would mean just as much,” he said.
“I was 22 then and probably didn’t appreciate it as much, but now that I’m getting older it would mean everything, I want it so bad.”
Match review via Pakenham Gazette, written by David Nagel.
Write them off at your own peril.
That is the lesson the rest of the competition is learning after the Warragul Industrials pulled off yet another remarkable finals victory, this time overcoming Cora Lynn for the first time in a decade to keep their premiership dream alive.
As they were last week, the Dusties were put under immense pressure early but were able to find a way to pull through before turning the game on its head and grind their way to a 7.4 (46) to 4.7 (31) win on the Cobras’ home deck, leaving them just one win away from the grand final. It’s a remarkable rise for a side that, it must be remembered, finished bottom of the table with just two wins to their name after the competition’s last full season in 2019.
Not only that, but to make a preliminary final from sixth position, knocking off two sides that they failed to beat during the home-and-away season, is simply the stuff of fairytales.
Equally as impressive was the defensive job the Dusties did, particularly on Cora Lynn’s superstar full forward Nathan Gardiner. Gardiner had been on an absolute tear through the latter parts of the season, having kicked 41 goals in the five games prior to the weekend, including eight last week to knock Nar Nar Goon out of the finals. Against the Dusties though? Gardiner was held to just two goals, while his side managed just four for the day.
This was, in large part, thanks to the clear defensive intent the Dusties presented throughout the day. Cora Lynn struggled to find clear leading lanes to run to inside 50, and when the ball inevitably hit the deck the tackling pressure of the defenders was near-perfect.
Wilson McGillivray played the primary job on Gardiner and did it with aplomb, while the importance of the role Todd Beck as the seventh man in defence cannot be understated.
The early stages of the game would have given the Dusties players a distinct sense of déjà vu to their final last week against Inverloch-Kongwak, as their opponents dominated the inside 50 in the first term. Cory Machaya kicked the Cobras’ first goal early, but as had been the case last week the Warragul defence was standing tall, albeit being aided by some poor goalkicking from the Cobras.
By quarter time the Dusties had failed to score and weren’t looking threatening, but trailed by only 11 points.
The second quarter had them work their way into the game though, and after Bailey Beck, Anthony Bruhn and Mason McGarrity all found the big sticks suddenly their quarter time deficit had turned into a half time lead.
The Dusties’ midfield had begun to go to work, as the likes of Bailey Beck, Will Gibson and Kane Oldham matched their opponents at the coalface, while the Dusties’ outside players used a short kicking style to starve the Cobras of many opportunities with the ball.
And after kicking the first two goals of the third term thanks to Todd Beck and Kyle Staples, suddenly the Dusties looked well and truly on for a famous win, though two late Cora Lynn goals ensured things were tight going into the final term at just eight points.
Mason McGarrity’s second goal propelled the Dusties’ advantage out again, but a quick response from Gardiner kept the Cobras in the game. Cora Lynn pushed hard late, but after Adrian De Sando showed all his class to kick a sealer it was enough to send Warragul through.
It means that for the second week in a row, against a side boasting a great deal of firepower in their forward half, the Dusties have managed to make the game an absolute grind to keep themselves in it and ultimately win.
That’s not to say Warragul are entirely lacking in their own forward line, but against the best teams in the competition the more defensive style they’ve adopted has absolutely paid dividends, allowing their contested ball prowess to come to the fore. Senior coach Harmit Singh and the rest of the coaching staff would no doubt be earning plenty of plaudits for their strategies to this point.
It was a rather disappointing end to the season for Cora Lynn, who had won 12 of their past 13 games before the loss. They’ll likely be left ruing their 0-5 start to the season, which left them playing catch-up for much of the year and ultimately finishing fifth on the table instead of a potentially higher finish.
The Dusties, meanwhile will be entering their prelim next week with supreme confidence, especially given that they were just one of two sides to defeat their opponent, Phillip Island, throughout the year.
There’s a certain air around the Warragul Industrials at the moment, and the sense that they may just be creating something very special this year.
Their finals victories thus far have given them a true up and coming underdog status for neutrals to get around, especially since they have made it to the final three sides left in it despite finishing sixth. If they were to win it, it would be one of the greatest stories country footy has seen in a long time.
Now we just wait to see if they can get their fairytale finish.
Match review via Warragul Drouin Gazette, written by Nicholas Duck.
Buln Buln moved a step closer to a place in the Ellinbank District football grand final, continuing its strong 2022 form over Trafalgar to advance to next week’s second semi-final.
While the Bloods rallied through the middle stages of the match to close back within sixpoints late in the third term, a strong start and finish delivered the 12-13 (85) to 7-7 (49) result for the Lyrebirds.
With Jace Butler a big out for Trafalgar due to welcoming a new baby overnight, it was Buln Buln who made the fast start in senior game number 200 for Matt Gray.
While the likes of Gray, coach Bob McCallum and Matt Stevens patrolled the forward line, it was the returning Sam Langford who was the hot hand early.
Damian Mann and Hayden Baker traded early misses before strong defence set up the first for the Lyrebirds. Manning up to make a Trafalgar exit difficult, Stevens found Baker in what transpired as a seven-point play.
Skills were exceptional early and it would begin a run that would realise five of the first six goals for the Lyrebirds.
Sam Batson found plenty of the ball and was rewarded with a goal courtesy of a free kick and 50-metre penalty.
An angle on the boundary side proved no problem for Langford, who would finish with five for the afternoon.
Dylan Farrell was dropping back to assist the Trafalgar defence and he set up an attack that would deliver the Bloods their first, Matthew Swenson converting from a juggled mark.
Buln Buln quickly shut down any chances of further resistance, Langford making no mistake from 25 metres for an immediate response.
Brandon Allen, who would provide rebound from defence for the afternoon, cut off a Trafalgar exit to combine with Jackson Kos. He speared a left foot pass to coach McCullum as the Lyrebirds went into quarter time four goals clear.
Not to be denied Trafalgar would lift to cut the margin across the second and third terms to put themselves back into the contest.
Chris Kyriacou, Mitch Virtue, Blake Radford and Hayden Brock would lift on the back of the early form of Farrell and Swenson.
Radford kicked the first of the second term and while Langford would add another from a strong mark, along with one over the back to Hayden Baker, the Bloods would have the better of it from there to the final break.
A Tristan Marslen free kick for a sling tackle began a run of three goals for the Bloods. A clean pick up and snap from Swenson was followed by another on the siren to bring the margin back to 12-points.
A running goal to Kos saw the third term start in a positive manner for the Lyrebirds, but the Bloods would come again.
Farrell took a turnover on the wing to set up Marslen for a good pass to Mann, and it was game on again as Tyson Leys made no mistake to cut the margin to six points late in the quarter.
A long goal to McCullum on the siren provided the steadier as the Lyrebirds would finish with the final four goals of the match.
Hardy Kenny had been doing a good job to quell Langford, but he would bob up again with a snap from 20 metres for the important first goal of the final term.
Thomas Axford joined Allen as a key pillar in defence as Kos, Hayden and Trent Baker continued to provide drive.
Langford booted a long goal from 45 metres for his fifth and if that hadn’t sealed it, another blow from the left foot of Jake Pierrehumbert made it lights out for the Bloods.
Match review via Warragul Drouin Gazette, written by Davyd Reid.
Ellinbank put out its best side for the season when it counted most, and it led to a comfortable victory over Poowong in the elimination final, 22-12 (144) to 11-5 (71).
Shaun Phelan, Daniel Risol, Tim Mashado, Michael Urie and Nathaniel Paredes all returned to the line-up in five changes for the Eagles, and they helped deliver a strong result to advance to the first semi-final.
Any doubts of a lack of football for Paredes and Urie were quickly put to rest, the former particularly dominant as the Eagles kicked six goals into the breeze to quickly put the match in their favour.
With no dedicated ruck playing for the Eagles, Connor Cunningham was influential for the Magpies while Jack Hazendonk tried hard, but the Poowong side simply didn’t have the answers for a classy Ellinbank outfit.
Tom Johnson marked in front of Andrew Logan for the first goal of the afternoon and while Cody Loughridge responded through the agency of a free kick and 50 metre penalty, the Eagles would quickly take control with the next five majors.
Johnson displayed a sublime pick up and snap from the high ball before Jake Dean converted from a free kick as Shaun Phelan couldn’t quite bring down the big fly.
Phelan was soon rewarded with a good kick from his left before Paredes danced around four to find Urie for the open goal.
Urie returned the favour as Paredes continued his best form to put through goal number six.
Patrick Harmes kicked the first goal of the second term following reward for a tackle, only for the Eagles to lift again.
Mashado swung onto his left for an impressive snap from 40 metres, the Magpies beginning to become undone by overuse of the handball.
Paredes continued to run into the open goal as William Lumby pulled his hamstring in chase.
While Robertson converted from a free kick for the Magpies, Paredes found Gaige White twice as the Eagles went into half time with a seven-goal lead.
Anthony Battista was winning plenty of the ball, while coach Wragg provided rebound from intercepts in defence.
Already missing Steve McInnes due to his child’s birthday party, it would prove a difficult task for the Magpies with Jye Loughridge joining Lumby on he sidelines with his ankle iced.
A stalemate ensued to begin the third term before Poowong captain Jaemeel Knecht did his best to try and produce a spark, converting from a free kick and 50 metre penalty.
Ellinbank would find the response with Urie finding Risol for a rare goal for the defender.
Harmes kicked truly after Ryan Carpenter was issued a yellow card following a wrestle as tempers began to flare, a crude hit on Phelan at the other end providing the immediate response for the Eagles.
Not to be perturbed, the Magpies went forward again to find Logan for a mark, only for the defender to miss. He and Chris Doria had been sent forward for a final roll of the dice for Poowong.
The Magpies headed into the final term looking to chance their arm, and it was Hazendonk who converted first despite Harmes becoming the latest player to come from the ground with a niggle.
Follow up from Phelan saw him snap from the boundary throw in to re-establish the advantage.
Hazendonk added another courtesy of a good shepherd from Logan as the Magpies looked to finish well.
Jayden Sullivan reduced the margin again as he broke through the 25-metre mark for their eighth.
Fittingly Paredes had a hand in the sealer, finding Phelan for another goal before Battista put the result to bed, converting from centre half forward.
Daniel Pratt ran into an open goal before Phelan put the icing on the cake with his sixth as the Eagles finished full of running.
Logan and Harmes added late consolation goals, but the damage had been done in a final term that had realised 11 goals between the sides.
Paredes finished the match with his third to seal best on ground honours, goals to Tony Wright, Liam Carollan and Pratt from 50 metres on the siren capping a dominant performance.
Match review via Warragul Drouin Gazette, written by Davyd Reid.
The Maroons held off a determined Morwell, winning 13.6 (84) to 9.12 (66) at Terry Hunter Oval.
While the quarter-by-quarter scores may have suggested Traralgon had the game under control for the entire match, this was certainly not the case.
Truthfully, the Tigers dominated possession for large portions of the game, and certainly had enough chances to win it.
Traralgon burst out of the blocks, kicking five goals to none in the first quarter.
Despite the ominous start, Morwell steadied and methodically chipped away at the deficit.
Although they didn’t kick a goal until the 16- minute mark of the second, the Tigers went into the main break only 22 points adrift.
Morwell pressed on in the third, in a quarter that was highlighted by a courageous mark to Tyler Brown running back with the flight.
Tristen Waack took a number of telling grabs around the ground for the Tigers, as his crumbing goal cut the margin to just 14 points at the 18-minute mark.
A follow-up free kick to Josh Galea saw him drill the ball inside 50 to Brandon McDonald, continuing Morwell’s momentum.
However, as became the story of the second half, Traralgon pegged goals back against the run of play.
A major to Tate Marsh a few seconds before three quarter time gave the Maroons a 20-point lead at the last change.
Traralgon playing coach Jake Best then kicked a long-range set shot two minutes into the final term, and at that stage, the game looked to have only one winner.
But they breed them tough at Tiger Land, and Morwell just refused to give in.
Back-to-back goals from the left boot of Nathan Noblett saw the Tigers right back in the hunt with plenty of time left.
McDonald then made it three in a row, and suddenly, Morwell was only seven points down and the quarter was only nine minutes old.
Traralgon key forward Brett Eddy kicked a steadier for the home side, and as the quarter drew out, time eventually became the Tigers’ greatest enemy.
As the clock ticked well past red time, Matt Northe, standing in as Traralgon captain for the injured Dylan Loprese, found some space to take a mark goal side, and kicked the sealer from close range, fittingly, in front of the Pud Northe Bar.
Northe ended the match with three goals, while Eddy kicked four. Tye Hourigan was best-on-ground, along with Conor Little, Sam Hallyburton and Adam Jaensch.
Haydn Hector was a notable absence for Traralgon, although he was the runner on the day.
Morwell, beaten but by no means defeated, found good contributions from Ryan Hearn, Brown, Waack, Max Linton, Tyler Hillier and Cody Macdonald.
Match review via Gippsland Times written by Liam Durkin.
The quirk of the 2022 fixture meant this would be the third time these two teams had met in just over eight weeks, with the record heading in standing at one win apiece.
The reward was obvious – direct entry into the grand final, rather than the need for a do or die preliminary final clash.
It might not have been the best game you’ve ever seen. However, for the Bulldogs, winning ugly was fine, kicking 7.15-57 to Tarwin’s 3.5-23.
Newborough coach Craig Skinner said his team’s mindset was “expect the unexpected and deal with it as best we can” as they entered their first final in six years.
And they did. Newborough lost best key defender Nic Caldow in the first 15 minutes when he twisted his knee in a tackle and didn’t return as the league’s premier forward Joel Mitchell kicked one goal and eight points.
At this point, he felt “the competition’s best side is circling like we are the wounded fish”.
“For us to win, we needed the cream to rise,” Skinner said. “And right on cue, Josh Hecker, Zac Skinner and Liam Flahavin control the middle of the ground and allow our backline to gain the ascendancy due to Tarwin’s rushed entries.”
He said this allowing the Wades – Smith and Anderson – to control the aerial contests and rebound from half back.
“To be able to match Tarwin, then increase the pressure around the ball, was this group going to the level required to win a grand final,” Skinner said. “Now they believe in themselves as much as I do.”
The half-time scoreline of 2.8-20 to 1.3-9 favouring Newborough, probably gives some sort of indication of the type and style of game that was being played. Opportunities were rare and weren’t always taken when presented.
The Bulldogs got what they wanted and what they needed. However, Tarwin believes they are better than what the weekend showed.
Tarwin coach Troy Hemming says, “we allowed their ball movement to happen and our skills were poor”.
“Simply just a bad day, and we know we will be better for it,” Hemming said.
Sometimes the footy gods don’t look down on you. But sometimes you also don’t get a second chance.
For the Sharks, they desperately want another go at the Bulldogs after being the benchmark team of the season.
“They had a day out, we didn’t,” reflected Hemming. “Few too many contests where we needed to half it and we didn’t. The boys will be ready for a preliminary final this week.”
Skinner also believes the Sharks are not done yet.
“Troy’s Sharks are wounded but they will reset and bounce back hard like good sides do,” he said. “They didn’t finish on top by accident.”
The Sharks simply cannot have another bad day, or a season that promised so much will amount to nothing. They deserve better than that.
Match review via multiple publications, written by Rob Popplestone.
Winning form is good form and both Boolarra and Yinnar had earned their positions in this final on the back of super impressive performances.
The expectation was for a physical bordering on fiery clash in the opening minutes, with both sides wanting to assert control over the other.
Finals footy, however, is a tenuous mix of physicality, resilience, and most importantly the temperament and focus to stay with the team’s plan to win the game.
Yinnar withstood some early pressure before applying some of their own. This led them to a comfortable and impressive 52-point win, 16.14-110 to 9.4-58.
Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor says it was another outstanding effort from his boys.
“We cracked in early and got the game on our terms, which was very pleasing,” Taylor said. “We had a full contribution right across the board, and the boys are really playing for each other.”
“We now have confidence, momentum and belief at the right time of the year, which can be very hard to stop,” he added.
It was Yinnar at every turn, leading by just four points at quarter time, 24 at the main break, and an unassailable 50 points after the third.
“Although Boolarra would be disappointed with the result…they’ve had a fantastic season and have laid the foundations to really launch into next year, which is good to see,” added Taylor.
The Demons should be pleased with their year as a whole, with outstanding performances more times than not. On Sunday, Yinnar proved to be that little more composed and steady throughout.
Boolarra coach Tony Giardina said he was proud of how far the club had come in just one year.
“Today wasn’t our day,” Giardina said. “Yinnar were too clean with the footy and too good all over the ground.”
Tarwin would have been looking on and preparing as best they can for what awaits them. They are sure to have some headaches this week at the selection and planning table, given how the Magpies cut through the Demons.
Match review via multiple publications, written by Rob Popplestone.
break from his blue collar duties in the back-half, pushed forward to show the forwards how easy their job actually is by slotting his third goal of the season. To their credit, the Jets battled to the very end, having six of the last seven scoring shots, but it could be argued based on their resting of Jacobsen, Kelleher and Brown at different stages late that TTU had well and truly placed the cue in the rack. First it was Jai Massesse, who was well down on his regular contributions, kicked truly at the 22-minute mark. Then it was the turn of Dean MacDonald to go back to back. Firstly he emulated Neilson’s one-handed clunk before kicking truly, and then followed up with a more straight forward mark and goal. He looked dangerous all day did D-Mac, however not even he can kick a bag of goals without the ball in his area. So there it was after a couple of hours on a single Saturday afternoon at Rosedale, all that we thought we knew was turned on its head. For TTU, it’s now all about prep-ping for the big one in a fortnight. For YYN it’s about re-grouping and rebounding in seven days. They were the best team all year for a reason and the benefit of that season-long performance is you get a second chance, a chance they will be looking to take next Saturday to Churchill when they take on Woodside.
for most of the match from that point on. The Wildcats however hit back, firstly with five goals to two in the second, paving the way for their barnstorming finish. The Cougars only kicked one point in the final term. Woodside did too, but they kicked 11 goals as well. Ryan Foat played a captain’s game for the winners, nailing half a dozen majors, while Ben Johnson kicked five. Will Broadbent was best-on-ground, along with Bailey Tatnell, Lee Stockdale and Jeremy Morgan. Dillon Leys was a standout for Churchill with five goals, and received good support from Chris Williams, Calen Hill, Ben Skinner, Jordan Fenech and Cain Iorangi. Woodside has completed a meteoric rise in recent weeks, going from making finals by half-a-game to reaching a Preliminary Final.
A feature of the Tigers’ game was the pressure their hard working midfielders put on the Cats ball carriers and when they did find some space, the closing speed of the Wy Yung defenders was exceptional.
The Tigers were more effective when they had the breeze, adding four goals to one in the second term to lead by 24 points at half time.
When they attacked the Tigers kicked quickly and effectively to an open forward line, with the fleet-footed Brodie Anderson, Zac Kellow and Luke Elia all finding space.
The club’s leading goalkicker, Brad Daniel, and Mikey Young, who played his best game for the season, were also great targets, and if they didn’t mark they brought the ball to ground so players such as Bayden Ashwood and Aaron Hanuera could swoop.
With coach Luke Dyer (29 possessions) and Justin Gould leading the way during the third quarter, the Cats tried to lift and get back into the game.
Back-to-back goals from Gould and Matt Irish saw them draw within 17 points at the 13-minute mark of the third quarter, but that was as close as they got.
Wy Yung skipper Norm Betts kicked a long goal shortly after, the result of an outstanding chase and tackle.
Jack Halabut kicked another in time on, stretching the margin to five goals with one quarter to play. The wind died off but it was still a monumental task and the Tigers put it beyond reach when Anderson kicked his second at the five-minute mark of the final term.
The final nail in the coffin was the last goal kicked by four-time Cats premiership player, Bayden Ashwood, rubbing further salt into some already raw wounds for Lindenow. Kellow finished with three goals and spent some quality time running through the middle. Elia finished with two, his chasing and forward pressure excellent.
Onballers Jock Overend, Nick Ward, Ashwood and Betts all played superbly. Daniel and Liam Rooney were exceptional in the ruck against the formidable Kevin Bongers, the giant unable to sustain his first half efforts as the Tiger duo worked harder in the second half.
Dylan and Jobe Somerville were tidy across half back, the former doing a number on the experienced Kane Ashwood. Exciting youngster Nate Somerville, a late inclusion after Jack Vickers didn’t come up, was outstanding in a run-with role on the prolific Rohan Blandford, the long sleeve wearing Cats ball magnet restricted to just 14 possessions.
The Cats were well served by Dyer, Stephen Henshaw, Todd Alexander, Conor Harvey, Travis Lawson, Matt Irish and Gould.
Wy Yung coach Doug Vickers was happy with his side post game and relieved to get another shot at Stratford.
“I was proud of our boys, they were brave and we hung in there and bowled them over, we did more of the things we like to do,” he said.
Vickers’ focus quickly turned to grand final day and what his side can do better.
“Can we get better? Yes, we have to get better, our disposals, kicking it to the fat side a little more and getting more run from behind – but today was pretty good,” Vickers said.
However the four-goal gap was retained for the majority of the contest, South holding its nerve to win with a late surge to be crowned premiers by 35 points in front of a packed crowd at the Omeo Recreation Reserve on a stunning late winter’s day.
Young defender, Jake Armstrong, was named best afield for a superb game at centre half back where he marked, intercepted and rebounded with aplomb.
However, the Swampies put together a true team performance where all players had moments or played key roles. Coach and captain, Nathan Pollard and Sam Howden, stood up every time Swifts Creek made a surge, the latter drilling a 50m set shot midway through the final quarter to end Swifts Creek’s slim hopes.
Seth Smith kicked the opening goal of the match, added another in the third term from a set shot and directly assisted in two more, however it was his back-to-back diving smothers early in the final term the typified the young Swampies’ effort and will to win.
Zac O’Keefe, who had earlier starred in a best afield junior performance, showed poise beyond his years, classy with every possession while nailing a brilliant final quarter snap his trusty left boot.
The South defenders were under siege at times, particularly early, but for the most part resolute.
Veteran Max Solomon kicked four goals, while Howden, Neil Rawlings, Smith and fellow youngster, Griffin Sherritt kicked two goals each.
Dylan Hack was clearly the Demons’ best. He kicked two third quarter goals to keep his side in touch, meanwhile being a constant presence in defence, through the middle and forward of centre.
Alistair Commins kicked three goals, Beau Hack and Che Davies battled hard, Robbie Crellin was always a threat in the air and Matt Stoddart and Arthur Wright showed clean skills at important times.
The Demons were far from outclassed, however gave the Swampies a big head start that they couldn’t reel in.
Lindenow South was the best team of the home and away season, the best team of the previous decade and has claimed the first premiership of the 2020s.
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