REIGNING premier Heyfield advanced to its second North Gippsland football grand final in as many seasons after coming from behind to win a classic preliminary final against Rosedale.
Trailing at the final change of ends at Maffra on Saturday, the signs didn’t look good in the early stages of the fourth term for the Kangaroos.
Heyfield was the first to go forward and score through Mitch Dowse to regain the lead. But would be Jesse Bedggood that would become the forward of the final term, when he kicked three of his game high six majors.
The Blues had a number of opportunities to regain the lead, however their key playmakers’ inaccuracy in front of goal was costly all afternoon. The side kicked 12 behinds in the second half alone.
It was the Kangaroos’ key playmakers which stepped up on the big stage. Coach Adrian Cox made his presence felt in the final term, Shaun Humphreys dominated in the ruck contests all afternoon, Josh Neille created play on the ball, while the back line, led by Mark Johnston, withstood the Blues’ forward pressure to ensure the Kangaroos booked a berth in the season’s ultimate contest.
The Kangaroos won 13.14 (92) to 9.18 (72).
Having defeated the Kangaroos the previous two occasions the sides had met this season, Rosedale didn’t appear phased early in the knock-out contest. The Blues caught Heyfield napping with the Kangaroos again slow out of the blocks.
A 50 metre penalty put Gerard Barnes within scoring distance as he opened Rosedale’s account. It was quickly followed by the Blues’ second through Scott Johnstone who ran from half-back to drill the major.
Forced onto the back foot early, the Kangaroos kicked their first goal through Kodie Woodland 10 minutes into the first term. It was followed by Brett Szabo’s first following a courageous mark by Jack Woodland with margin reeled back to eight points.
A shot for goal after the siren by Humphreys drew the margin back to two points at the first change.
The pressure intensified during a low scoring and physical second term.
Szabo missed the first shot of the second term, while there was no such issue at the other end of the ground for Andrew Flanagan, who kicked the second of his three goals for the match.
The Kangaroos defence was besieged, kicking out to a three-on-one contest, the Blues rebounded through captain Chris King, whose hard tackling resulting in his side’s second goal in as many minutes to extend the margin out to two majors.
Fast and frenetic paced footy with ferocious tackling was common place with the Blues’ power forwards struggling to make the most of their opportunities. The swirly wind conditions were unfavourable to the tall forwards.
Bedggood made it two majors in a row to bring the difference back to a point late in the term, before his third shot on goal for the quarter registered a behind ahead of the half-time siren to hand the Kangaroos a one-point lead.
Beginning the third term on the front foot, Jack Woodland opened Heyfield’s account in front of a crowd, which a paid a record $12,648 at the gate.
Brother Kodie followed on by adding his second goal after swooping on the loose ball.
Under pressure, Rosedale settled to register its first major 14 minutes into the term before Brad Caldwell’s first goal snatched back the lead for the Blues.
Three missed opportunities in the closing stages of the term let Heyfield off the hook.
Kicking the ball off the ground through the goals, Mitch Doswe got Heyfield off to a flying start in the fourth quarter. It was followed by one of three majors to Bedggood in the final term as the Kangaroos defenders of Jesse Leeds and Dave Kelly held strong as they cut off the delivery into Flanagan, Caldwell and Jeremy Reid.
Flanagan registered his third to reel the margin back to eight points at the 19-minute mark, however it would be answered by majors to Josh Stubbe and Bedggood with Heyfield recording a 20-point victory.
IN the reserves, Traralgon-Tyers United recorded a comfortable 37-point victory over Cowwarr, 10.9 (69) to 4.8 (32), to advance to the grand final to meet minor premier Heyfield.
COWWARR sealed its first appearance in the thirds grand final with victory over Sale City, 13.11 (89) to 11.13 (79). The Saints led by 37 points at half time, but had to compete with a dogged City line-up in the second half to hold on to the win.
The Saints will meet Churchill in the big one.