HEYFIELD defeated Sale City in a classic North Gippsland football qualifying final on Saturday to set-up a second semi-final against minor premier Rosedale.
Led by Brenton Dinsdale, Daniel Saunders and experienced campaigners Dave Kelly and Cox, the Kanagroos turned a two-point half-time deficit into a 16-point lead at the final change.
Nathan Wellins and Bret Szabo booted five and four majors respectively, with the duo scoring consecutive majors in the second half to set the tone for the victors.
In their first finals appearance in two seasons, the Kangaroos rose to the challenge, registering the first major some five minutes into the contest.
It was one-way traffic early as the Kangaroos packed numbers around the stoppages, with their rovers reading the taps better than the Bulldogs and pumping the ball into a wide open forward line.
Both sides failed to make effective use of the footy early before the Kangaroos drew on the experience of a number of their seasoned campaigners to compose and dominate passages of play.
Jesse Bedggood opened proceedings for Heyfield before Szabo slotted through his first goal minutes later.
After Sale City missed its first opening two shots at goal, Jesse Leeds made it three consecutive goals for Heyfield, which led by 17 points at quarter-time.
The reigning premiers soon found their feet with Byron Shingles opening his side’s account in the first minute of the second term, it was followed by another quick reply.
As quickly as City mounted a challenge, Kangaroos coach Adrian Cox accelerated from Chivers at the centre bounce with a strong lead and mark by Leeds resulting in the Kangaroos’ fourth major.
City added another before neither side was able to make an impact in front of goal.
Bulldogs coach Nick Hider broke the strangle hold, sprinting goalward with his kick forward finding Joel Brayshaw who went back to register his first of three goals.
Kelly kept close check on Brad McKay, but could do little as the ball came crashing down from the marking contest, Brayshaw roved the loose ball to snap at goal the margin reeled to five points.
A Michael Walsh goal gave the Bulldogs the lead for the first time late in the second term.
The Kangaroos responded in the third quater, beginning when Leeds fed the ball to Szabo, who snapped true.
Hard work from the side’s running midfielders ensured the Kangaroos maintained possession, kicking two more goals. City was able to break the tide, but Leeds was at it again as his second goal handed Heyfield a 16-point lead at three-quarter-time.
The final quarter was a one-sided affair with the Kangaroos dominating possession thanks to Kelly, Cox, Woodland and Neille. Wellins kicked two more goals as Heyfield won 13.17 (95) to 7.14 (56).
City’s Tim McMillan left nothing in the locker room, Ben Chivers came in and out of the game, taking on various roles, and Shingles was busy, but the Bulldogs couldn’t get a roll on in front of goal in the dying stages of the match.