DESPITE losing to minor premier Heyfield, Woodside booked the last spot in the North Gippsland football finals.
With a mere 0.72 of per cent separating Woodside and Yarram heading into the final round and both playing the competition’s top two sides, many suggested it wouldn’t come down to who would win, but the team which lost by the lesser margin that would see their end of season ambitions fulfilled.
Not content with being written off, Woodside began strongly against Heyfield.
The visiting Wildcats held strong during the opening term with the Kangaroos’ inaccuracy a feature. Boasting eight scoring shots, the competitions number one side converted just two into majors to lead by just five points at the first change.
During the second term, Woodside outscored the home side three goals to one with Josh Griffin showing a few tricks in front of goal on his way to a match tally of four majors.
Led by coach Chris Pettitt, Ryan Foat, Shane Kilgower, Matt Scholz and Damien Kerr, the Wildcats hit the man hard as they turned a five-point deficit into a seven-point lead by half-time.
The Kangaroos hit their straps during the third quarter as Jesse Bedggood turned it on in front of goal, captain Brenton Dinsdale raised the bar in one of his best performances of the season with onballers Jack Woodland, Daniel Stevens and Josh Stubbe beginning to gain the upper hand. The Kangaroos registered six goals to one to to set the tone for the remainder of the contest.
While the Wildcats matched Heyfield in the final term, the Kangaroos won 11.20 (86) to 9.3 (57) to complete an unbeaten run through the home-and-away season.
CHURCHILL dashed Yarram’s finals hopes with a 19-goal victory.
An 11-goal haul by Hamish Towns, who showed an endless bag of tricks in the second term, was one of many highlights for the Cougars as they made a return to the winners’ list, 29.11 (185) to 10.10 (70).
The Cougars’ relentless pressure and run set-up many goals, none more so than during a barnstorming second term, when they booted 12 goals to a mere behind.
Led by Towns, Nick Celima (four goals), Tim Darby and Nat Campbell (three each), the Cougars were relentless, their execution sending a clear message to fellow finalists that they are primed to push deep into finals action despite last week’s shortcoming against Heyfield.
Andrew Brown was an imposing figure in the ruck contests, setting up Travis Brighton and Chris Williams, who dictated play on their terms around the ground, while defender Jordon Fenech stopped many of the Demon attacks.
With five goals, Jarryd Swift was the Demons’ best player.
IN a preview to finals, third-placed Rosedale defeated Sale City 12.14 (86) to 10.10 (70).
Inaccuracy hampered the Blues in the opening term before the visitors found their way in front of goal to slam home five majors to one in the second quarter to put the Bulldogs on notice.
Brandon McDonald and full forward Andrew Flanagan, who marked his return from injury with three majors, were the main protagonists in front of goal.
The sides exchanged blows during an even third term, but the Bulldogs struggled to eat into the Blues’ 21-point half-time lead.
Defender Jed Hickey kept the Bulldogs’ sharpshooters in check, with Mitch Bennett the pick of the scorers with three.
At the other end of the ground, City’s Ben Chivers created run from half-back which Brad McKay and Jake Milham benefited from.
Adam Mitchell was a solid performer for the Blues in the contests, while also bobbing up with two majors, with Luke Stuckey and Dale Fleming also impressive.
TRARALGON-Tyers United made the most of its chances to seal a 20-point victory over Boisdale-Briagolong
Boisdale-Briagolong began the battle of the Bombers strongly, but mistakes cost the home side, which lost , 12.13 (85) to 9.11 (65).
Led by Brian Graham, TTU made the most of its chances when the game was in the balance during the third term.
Despite dominating possession and opportunities in front of goal, boasting seven scoring shots to five, Boisdale-Briagolong couldn’t buy a goal during the third quarter.
Trailing by two kicks at the main change, the home side hit the ground running in the second half with Danny Pratt registering one of his four goals for the match from the opening clearance.
From that point, Boisdale-Briagolong couldn’t make the most of its chances, despite lengthy passages of play in its forward half.
In contrast, each time TTU pushed forward, it scored with Graham and coach Matt Stolarczyk setting up the forwards.
Boisdale-Briagolong again took its chances early in the final term to reel the deficit back to 14 points, but the visitors registered what appeared to be the sealing goal early in the quarter. But Boisdale-Briagolong kept fighting with captain Nicol Sandison superb when rotating in the ruck or floating between centre half-forward and in the back line, keeping his side in the contest as it again answered TTU’s challenge.
With the clock counting down, TTU was forced to work hard in a contest which often resembled a game of keepings off. Both sides were kicking blindly at times, hoping for the best as the ball rebounded back and forward.
Pratt provided a contest, whether it was bringing the ball to ground or taking a strong mark, when the home side pushed forward. Matt Lee was superb in the engine room with his ruthless tackling and vision setting up his side’s forwards.
TTU was served well by Hayden Hector, Luke Middelton, who worked hard against a rotating ruck combination, and Rhys Martin.
COWWARR was forced to toil hard after half time against Gormandale to mark Robbie Fergusons 250th club match, while denting the celebrations for Tiger Wayne Henry’s milestone match.
One point separated the sides at half-time, with Gormandale leading what had been an enthralling arm wrestle.
The Saints then punished the Tigers with a nine-goal to six second half to win 16.9 (105) to 13.10 (88).
Goal sneak Ben Plozza created headaches for the Tigers’ defence, which struggled to contain him. Booting eight majors, Plozza was helped out by milestone man Ferguson, who chipped in with two goals.
The Tigers’ challenge came through Henry in his 250th match in the yellow and black, with Daniel Trease also contributing three majors. Captain Luke Hegarty was the Tigers’ best.
GLENGARRY had the bye.
Qualifying final, Saturday at Heyfield:
Seniors: Churchill v Rosedale, 2.15pm.
Reserves: Cowwarr v Churchill, noon.
Thirds: TTU v Glengarry, 9.45am.
Elimination final, Sunday at Churchill:
Seniors: Sale City v Woodside, 2.15pm.
Reserves: Sale City v Boisdale-Briagolong, noon.
Thirds: Yarram v Woodside, 9.45am.