Longwarry staved off a second half surge to account for Warragul lndustrials and earn another shot at rivals Nyora in Saturday’s Ellinbank District Football League grand final. An explosive second term helped the Crows establish a handy buffer at the long break, with clutch goals in the second half helping stave off a challenge from the Industrials to win 13.13 (91) to 10.11 (71).
Early the match looked as it it would be an arm wrestle as both sides traded goals in the first term. Braydon McHugh scored the first major through heavy traffic before fast rebound from defence saw the Crows find Fry on the lead. Tye Holland scored from a set shot, but the Crows kicked clear again with McHugh finishing off some good work from Kane Oldham and Rundell to convert from the pocket. Joel Crowther converted from a hold to reduce the margin to just six points at the first change.
It was the Crows who would dominate the second term, booting the next five goals to open a handy lead. A clever steal from Rundell was quickly followed by a long goal to Cory Lenders. Two Industrials players clashed to open an opportunity for Harley Jones to be rewarded for a chase down tackle. He found a Lenders lead into the pocket for the Crows’ sixth. When Leigh McDonald scored from an inspirational snap late in the second term, the Crows had taken the lead beyond five goals. Russell Lehman had been picking up possessions at will, while Jake Delphine, Nicholas Redley, Cole Cook and Riley and Brody Rundell had also helped the Crows establish a handy lead.
Facing a 35-point deficit at the long break, the Industrials came out firing to score three of the first four goals of the third quarter as they threatened to mount a challenge. The Crows missed a running shot on goal but were gifted the steadier they desperately needed, with Riley Rundell kicking true after taking the free kick for being dumped after disposal. It pushed the lead back out to about five goals, which would prove a bridge too far for the Industrials.
Entering the final change with nothing to lose, the Industrials scored the first major to breathe some life back into the contest. But again Longwarry were able to steady through a gifted free kick, Daniel Fry taking full advantage from a downfield free kick after Russell Lehman was bumped after taking his kick. Steven Ballingal squared up to Shane Brewster, whose long shot carried the line to break a deadlock. Will Gibson scored a long goal but just as it looked as if the lndustrials would mount another challenge the Crows were able to steady through Braydon McHugh.
Tye Holland, Cooper Minichiello, Mitch Davies, Travis Ogden, Brewster and Tyson Bale helped the Industrials fight back in the second half, but running the gauntlet with physical pressure only served to bring key clutch goals for the Crows. Jones snapped the sealer late in the final term to send a pumped up Crows team through to the grand linal. An inspirational running goal from Bale and conversion from a onc-hunded Brewster mark proved too little too late as the Crows held on to win by 20 points.