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JAKE Schuback kicked eight goals to steer Sale City to a 40-point victory over Woodside in the North Gippsland football elimination final.
The Bulldogs ended the Wildcats’ season with their 19.9 (123) to 12.11 (83) victory on Sunday at Churchill.
The Bulldogs will meet Rosedale in the first semi-final on Sunday.
It took the Bulldogs until the seven-minute mark of the first term to register their opening goal, however from that point, power forward Schuback and fleet footed running brigade had the ball on a string as they tore apart the Wildcats’ defence.
Seven points separated the sides after a tight opening term, but it then became one-way traffic with Sale City packing numbers around the stoppages, with its rovers reading the taps better and pumping the ball into a wide open forward line.
The match began with a touch of the fumbles, with both sides failing to make effective use of the footy before City drew on the experience of a number of seasoned campaigners to compose and dominate passages of play. Jake Milham, Brad McKay and Brandon Rathnow were the main playmakers as they amassed the contested possession and fed the ball into the Bulldogs’ forwards.
Josh Griffin opened the scoring for the Wildcats following a free kick. Woodside had two goals in a row when Adrian Fazioli roved the pack to snap true.
The arm wrestle continued in the second term before the Bulldogs slowly gained the ascendency with their extreme physical pressure, finals experience and big name players rising on centre stage.
Schuback got things happening in the opening minutes of the second term, before a running major to Byron Shingles made it a 20-point ball game. Woodside responded to reel back a major, however missed shots to Griffin and Tom Love, the later goal being touched over the line, didn’t help their cause.
Running on confidence, the Bulldogs didn’t have such troubles at the opposite end of the ground as Rathnow registering a goal on the rebound.
The opportunities in front of goal came fast and furious at times, similarly Schuback’s tackle on Chris Pettitt which besieged the Wildcats coach and handed the forward of the match one of his eight majors.
Wildcat Shane Kilgower chopped off an errant kick from Bulldogs defender Tim Dimarco to kick a goal to reduce the deficit to 17 points.
Pettitt’s tackle on the half-back flank set-up Matt Sholz, who combined with Luke Anedda and Griffin, who drilled the ball into Ben Johnson for a goal.
The Bulldogs capitalised on another turnover, this time Milham combining with Mitch Bennett to score ahead of half-time, with the Bulldogs leading by 16 points.
The third term belonged to City’s Nick Grainger.
Such was Grainger’s dominance, Pettitt rotated three opponents on the playmaker throughout the quarter. But it didn’t halt Grainger, nor teammate Josh Barbetti, who hunted the ball around the pack to inflict pain on the Wildcats defence as he time and time again pounced on the loose ball and ineffective disposal.
Schuback added to his tally in the third along with Bennett. At the other end of the ground, Griffin registered his second major with the margin seven goals at the final change.
Kilgower and Kerr worked hard to reel the margin to begin the final term, however, as had been the story of the day, inaccuracy in front of goal proved costly for the Wildcats.
Schuback added his seventh from 11 scoring shots before swinging around on his deadly accurate left foot to set-up Mitch Evans from 15 metres out. Evans had a second goal before the ball had returned to the centre square after an infringement by a Wildcats defender gave him the ball again.
From that point the match was a foregone conclusion, however, late majors to the Wildcats chipped away at the deficit.
Rathnow found plenty of the ball, Shay Ferguson was instrumental down back and made an impact when pushing forward, while Brad Fleahy was dogged in and around the contests.
Woodside’s Kilgower never gave up and was well supported by Ryan Foat, Ben Johnson and Sholz.
A NINE-goal to two third term set-up Boisdale-Briagolong’s 19.5 (119) to 11.10 (76) victory over Sale City in the reserves. The Bombers will meet Cowwarr in the first semi-final.
IN the thirds, Yarram defeated neighbour Woodside 13.12 (90) to 5.4 (34) to set-up a first semi-final against Glengarry.
Second semi-final, Saturday at Stephenson Park, Sale:
Seniors: Heyfield v Churchill, 2.15pm.
Reserves: Heyfield v Churchill, noon.
Thirds: Churchill v TTU, 9.45am.
First semi-final, Sunday at Woodside:
Seniors: Rosedale v Sale City, 2.15pm.
Reserves: Cowwarr v Boisdale-Briagolong, noon.
Thirds: Glengarry v Yarram, 9.45am.