Longwarry can breathe a sigh of relief after coming back from 43-point deficit to win Saturday’s elimination final by a single point.
The frantic heroics of Riley Rundell in the dying seconds saw the Crow kick a goal for his side to see them hit the front for the first time that day and the siren sounded less than a minute later.
It was a tough start for Longwarry, who struggled to hit targets in blustery conditions at Catani. The Crows were scoreless in the first term, while the Magpies used a wind advantage and notched up a huge 46-point margin by the end of the first term.
With a change of ends it was Poowong’s term to kick against the strong northerly wind, and they were scoreless in the second term while Longwarry made up some ground, kicking four goals seven to bring the margin to 17 points at halftime.
With the wind the biggest player in the game, Longwarry knew they were in for a tough third term. Poowong opened the scoring in the third term, but the wind continued to play havoc for both teams.
Both sides struggled to hit targets in the blustery conditions and Longwarry on-ballers struggled to get the ball back into their 50. Games are won and lost in the second half, and with the next two majors going to the Magpies, it looked as if a Poowong victory was inevitable.
With 10 minutes to go in the third, the wind began to die down but after several attempts Longwarry were still unable to find the main target between the posts.
A goal from Poowong closed the quarter. At the beginning of the final term, the margin stood at 43 points. A change of scoring ends saw Longwarry again take the wind advantage, and the stage was set.
A Longwarry behind open the quarter and then came a flurry of goals. Three majors came within the first five minutes and they needed four to win.
With 10 minutes to go, the winds intensified. Unable to kick long and accurately, both teams engaged in a frantic three minutes of tough groundwork before the winds again died down.
The Crows played the game mostly in their half but Poowong did their best to bring the ball back into their forward fifty with, even if just to waste time.
Another Longwarry goal came, and then another. With five minutes to go the difference between the two sides was five points — 71 to 76, Poowong’s way.
With under a minute to go, Longwarry needed nothing short of a goal to win. And then, a miracle in the form of Riley Rundell stood up. The young Crow forward already had two majors to his name, but he made that number three when he booted a tough major, in much congestion, to give Longwarry the lead for the first time in the game.
The siren sounded just seconds later and Poowong’s best 18 slumped to the ground. Aaron Serong was Longwarry best man on the day. He was backed up by the efforts of Russell Lehman, Corey Lenders, Kane Oldham, Jedd Serong and Nick Redley.
Riley Rundell led the goalscoring for the Crows with his three majors. Jedd Serong and Russell had two each while Tye Holland, Ben McHugh, Nathan Fry and Daniel Fry all kicked a major.
Best on ground for the Magpies was Jayden Sullivan. Jack Hazendonk, Tim Hancock, Jake Cochrane, Will Lumby and Jai Newcombe also received honourable mentions.Will Watson - Warragul & Drouin Gazette
Neerim Neerim South ended Nyora’s season on Saturday with a decisive 49-point victory over the Saints in Sunday’s elimination final.
Nyora had the advantage of a home final but were unable to overcome an in-form Cats outfit.
“Being the elimination final is not really where you want to be,” says Neerim Neerim South senior coach Nick Humphrey.
“We decided that Nyora was going to be an opposition that was going to be really hard to beat,” he says.
Nyora had the upper hand early, kicking two goals two goals four to the Cat’s one goal four. “They hit us really hard,” says Humphrey. “There was really a sense of ‘game on.’” Despite a slow start, Neerim opened the game in the second term. The Cats kicked six majors while holding their hosts to just five behinds. 25 points was the margin at the main break.
Humphrey says Neerim’s on-ballers were key to that second quarter turn-around.
“We planned to do a more defensive midfield game,” he says. “Knocking the problem on the head before it becomes a problem.”
Sticking to a strong game plan worked well for the Cats. In the third term they further widened the gap with Nyora, kicking three goals one, with the Saints managing two majors to bring the deficit to 31 points.
“We stuck to our structures,” he says.
“We are a disciplined side within our four walls.”
“We had more blokes who were prepared to put their head over the footy than what Nyora did,” he says.
In the final term, Neerim Neerim South kicked another five goals to bring their final tally to 15.6-96. Nyora meanwhile kicked one major and one behind. With a 49-point deficit, their season was over.
Best on ground for the Cats was influential half back Calllum Shiels. Dean Stringer, Rhys George, who made his senior debut this year, Kody Wilson, Timothy Beaurain and Chris Urie also received honourable mentions. Urie kicked the most majors for this side with three influential majors to his name.
Jeremiah Jones was also important, taking an incredible mark in the second term. Best on ground for Nyora was Nick Carrigy. He was backed up by the efforts of Lachlan Fievez, Ryan Spooner, Dylan Heylen, Rhys Bancroft and Brad Arnold.
“We don’t have a side of superstars,” says Humphrey. “But we’ve got a team that works together.” This Saturday Neerim Neerim South will take on Poowong at Ellinbank.
“We won’t be changing too much at all,” says Humphrey.
“We’ve hit form at the right time.”Will Watson - Warragul & Drouin Gazette
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All match reviews written by Will Watson reporting for Warragul & Drouin Gazette. To view original article in full online subscribe to WDG here.