Bruthen has a shot at an Omeo District senior football premiership three-peat.
The Bulldogs’ premiership defence couldn’t have gone any better on Saturday with the reigning premier defeating previous premiership favourite, Omeo Benambra, by 24 points at Swifts Creek to advance to the grand final at Lindenow South in two weeks time.
The Ranges’ 14-game winning streak came to an abrupt end with the Bulldogs dominating the opening term of the second semi final to set up the victory. The Ranges now go into a prelim this Saturday against Buchan at Buchan and could be without big man, Dale Brownrigg, who has been offered a one-week ban after being reported for making unreasonable contact with an opposition player’s face.
The cold conditions didn’t seem to bother Bruthen as it made the first thrust forward through three-time league best and fairest winner, Harley Kenner. Although it didn’t score it didn’t take long for the underdog Bulldogs to hit the scoreboard through Brendan Flinn, who goaled from long range two minutes in.
Kenner showed what he is capable of bursting through a pack, snapping the Bulldogs’ second as they crept out to a 12-point lead early on.
Bruthen was on fire and the Ranges were in need of a settler and Jai Hayward did just that, making easy work of a 50-metre penalty from point-blank range as his side trailed by six points half way through the first quarter.
Flinn quickly found his second to get the reply for Bruthen before Nathan Hayes booted his first from a running snap on the boundary. A 50m penalty from a late, hard hitting equal league best and fairest winner, Cody Graske, allowed Bruthen’s Tim Coxhill to goal as his side held a 24-point lead at quarter time. Riley Steenholdt was a standout in the midfield for Omeo Benambra while Bruthen’s Craig Taylor was racking up plenty of possessions across half back.
Kenner started the second term as he did the first with a centre clearance, which resulted in Flinn’s third goal as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 30 points. From there it was all Omeo Benambra as Hayward kicked two goals in quick succession giving his side a sniff as they trailed by eight points at the main break.
With the weather turning in the second half, Bruthen quickly wrestled back the momentum, booting 4.2 to Omeo Benambra’s 1.4. Omeo Benambra’s Damien Pedder was starting to find the football in the third term while Kenner, fellow league best and fairest winner, Jamie Barton, and Taylor were on fire. Ross Ansaldi played a big part and he continued to work hard in the last term as he was clearly the Ranges’ best.
With a 24-point buffer at three quarter time, Bruthen continued to move the ball better and simply had all the answers to any forward play that Omeo Benambra tried to throw at it. Despite booting 4.3 in the last term, the Ranges’ defence was under siege constantly as Bruthen continued to blast the ball inside 50m, resulting in four more goals. Omeo Benambra will be ruing its missed opportunities in the second and third terms, but overall the Bulldogs controlled most of the game.
Kenner and Flinn finished with three goals for Bruthen while Grattan Mullett was consistent.
For the Ranges, Hayward booted four while Pedder snagged three, with Peter Craze and Dean Jobling putting in strong performances.
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