ROSEDALE’S North Gippsland football premiership reign is over, following defeat to Woodside in Saturday’s battle for the fifth spot in this year’s finals series.
The decisive round 18 clash lived up to the pre-game hype, with the Blues rallying from nearly five goals down in the final quarter to take the lead, only to succumb to a late burst from the home side.
Goals from coach Gary Jones and Tom Love ensured the Wildcats clung on to a finals berth with a thrilling 16.13 (109) to 14.16 (100) win.
Jones said the result was a relief and exorcised some ghosts of past opportunities.
“As I said to the boys after the game it’s better to win ugly than lose pretty,” he said.
“A few of the boys played in 2013 when Woodside lost to TTU with pretty much the last kick of the day to get kicked out of finals, so it’s good for the club to move on and feel a little bit better about that.”
Indicative of both clubs’ seasons, Woodside made five changes to the side that fell short against Heyfield last week, while Rosedale made four from the team that overcame Glengarry.
The Blues were without playing coach Sam Bristow (hamstring injury) and senior regulars Chris Sutton (hand) and Jake Main (quadriceps), while Woodside lost Tom King to prior commitments.
Brad Scott returned from injury alongside premiership teammate Craig Bourne, who played his first game of the year following his return from Canada.
Wildcats tall Corey Whiteoak was available after serving a one-week suspension, while King and Dylan McLachlan proved key inclusions.
The home side kicked first three goals of the game before Rosedale took control, dominating the remainder of the quarter, but only managing two goals from 11 scoring shots.
Woodside threatened to kick away throughout the contest but Rosedale kept responding and when the Blues reeled off five goals in a row, suddenly the game was turned on its head.
However, the Wildcats had time for one more push and they managed to resurrect their season and avoid a fifth straight defeat.
The key moments were clear for Bristow.
“You look at the first quarter and we kicked 2.9 … we were playing well we just couldn’t execute,” he said.
“We hit the front (in the last quarter) and I thought that was it, but it was too early.
“The usual suspects for Woodside, Rob Michaelides and Gary Jones, started getting their hands on it and we couldn’t stop them.”
Jones, McLachlan and Shane Kilgower were best for Woodside, while Scott, Frazar Brouns and Matt Royal performed for Rosedale.
Blues forward Brandon McDonald’s three goals took his season tally to 74 and secured him the league’s leading goal-kicker award.
Bristow said it had been a tough season, but hoped to contend again next year.
“It’s a very competitive league and everyone can beat everyone, so you’re only ever one or two players away,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover from last year to this year, but hopefully we can hold on to a few and forge ahead next year.”
HEYFIELD survived a scare to defeat an inspired Traralgon-Tyers United by two points at Tyers.
The Kangaroos went into the game on the back of a four-game winning streak, but were made to work hard for number five, as the Bombers booted five goals to none in the opening term.
The visitors fought back to lead by two points at half-time and stretched the margin to 15 at the final change, but had to hold off a late surge from the home side to win 11.17 (83) to 12.9 (81).
James Beha (two goals) was best-on-ground for Heyfield, with Jesse Bedggood and Cameron Garrett also prominent.
Jye Neagle booted four for TTU, with Jayden Steers, Ricky Cochrane and Patrick Harriman among the best.
Heyfield finished third on the ladder, with the Bombers eighth.
SALE City rounded out a dominant home-and-away season with a 64-point defeat of Cowwarr.
Tom Wilson bagged eight goals and Tye Morrison four in the 17.13 (115) to 7.9 (51) victory.
Jacob Milham and Harrison Kaandorp were stand-outs for the Bulldogs, while Shane Morgan, Linden Brunt and Pat Tainsh battled hard for the visiting Saints, who ended the home-and-away season in seventh place.
Sale City will have a week off before tackling Churchill or Heyfield in the second semi-final.
CHURCHILL’S multifaceted forward line warmed up for finals with a 120-point humbling of Gormandale.
Michael Santo finished with seven goals and Brad Knowles and Hamish Towns four apiece in the 29.18 (192) to 11.6 (72) win.
Brendan Mason and Brad Brereton also impressed for the qualifying final-bound Cougars.
Liam Kurrle, Josh Kurrle and Justin Fulton stood tall for the Tigers, who collected the wooden spoon with one win for the season.
YARRAM warmed up for an elimination final against rival Woodside with an 81-point win at Glengarry.
It was an impressive win for the Demons, who overcame a sluggish start to keep the in-form Magpies to one goal after half-time in the 15.17 (107) to 3.8 (26) win.
Matt Clavarino, Trek Davis and Griffin Underwood led the way for Yarram, while Chris Wangman, Travis Patten and Leigh O’Mara rounded out good individual seasons for the Glengarry.