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The Nyora Lady Saints travelled to Bunyip to battle the Bulldogs on their home turf in the highly anticipated preliminary final.

Hype surrounded the lead up to the clash, fuelled by Bunyip’s controversial decision to forfeit their double chance Qualifying Final to concentrate on winning the Elimination Final, a decision that sent social media buzzing and reached the upper chamber of the AFL Commission. A muddy affair awaited, the first quarter was goalless with the Lady Saints holding a slender two point to zero lead in a tight and tough contest void of clean possessions.

The second quarter provided much of the same and in another goalless term, Nyora went into the main break with a one-point lead. The third quarter was again a hard slog in the mud. Bunyip managed a goal from a forward stoppage, rolling across the line and avoiding the roving maul of muddy players to give Bunyip a match high five-point lead.

The final quarter was an intense battle with neither side giving an inch.

A scoreless term had Bunyip maintain the five-point lead and runout winners, progressing to the Grand Final against Boisdale whilst Nyora ponder what could have been. Lady Saints’ Sharni Fox put in her best performance of the season. Cait Van Dord battled hard all day dominating in the ruck and at ground level. Steph Warburton, Telese Lane and Lisa Girth were solid down back denying Bunyip’s forward motion.

Ash Fennell was sensational in a best on ground performance and is a favourite heading into the league best and fairest. Chloe Dodd and Jess Lineham complemented one another with a consistent midfield performance. Coach Brett Kelly was proud of the team’s effort and came to the conclusion Bunyip’s extra week off and fresh legs on a heavy ground played a major role.

“There was a lot to like about the Lady Saints efforts across the board and encouraged the girls to have a well-earned break and come back bigger and better in 2020,” he said.

South Gippsland Sentinel Times

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