Mid Gippsland minor premiers Newborough staged a remarkable comeback when it turned a 32-point deficit into a three-goal win against Trafalgar, 11.7 (73) to 8.7 (55).
Bulldogs coach Allan Chandler credited the come-from-behind victory to his players’ determination
“We’re not the most skilled side; I think it’s our endeavour, our intensity and our work rate that can get us over the line,” Chandler said.
“I think in the second half it did; as long as we do that I think anything’s possible.”
Chandler said he did not think the week’s break had a negative impact on their game.
He attributed the slow start to “laziness” and a lack of finals experience in the playing group.
He said they did not have enough intensity and “Trafalgar, to their credit, killed us in the first half”.
Chandler said it was a “massively good feeling” to know they had made it to the grand final with a week of recovery.
The Bulldogs started slowly and it was all Trafalgar in the first two quarters.
The Bloods scored the first three goals and though Newborough ruckman Chris Hancock was getting the hits in the centre, the Bloods were able to move the ball out to their forward 50 metres.
Newborough failed to trouble the scoreboard in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs made it too easy for their opposition with a loose defence.
The Bloods moved the ball cleanly to get out to a 32-point lead which Newborough reduced to 27 at half-time.
The Bulldogs came out firing in the second half and kept the ball in their attacking half to score two goals and two behinds to trail by 13 points.
The Bloods had dropped their intensity and the Bulldogs were able to move the ball from Trafalgar’s forward 50m to their own to score another goal.
Trafalgar scored just one behind that quarter, but remained in front by seven points going into the final stanza.
Newborough scored two behinds before a goal to put it in front for the first time by one point.
It scored three more unanswered goals in the quarter, while the Bloods only managed a point in an amazing turn around.
Bloods assistant coach Christian Burgess said his side could not “lift” to match the Bulldogs when needed.
“We didn’t do anything (in the second half) that we did in the first half; everything in the second half was just Newborough; they were all over us,” Burgess said.
“There’s no excuses; they played better in the second half.”
Yinnar’s display of talent and skill across the ground rewarded it with a 16.10 (106) to 10.8 (68) win over Mirboo North.
Magpies coach Sam McCulloch credited their win to a “pleasing” even team performance.
“Every single bloke played their role,” McCulloch said.
“We didn’t have three or four players that carried us through.
“It was just 21 players who all played their best when they had to.”
The Magpies had a great start to post a 20-point lead at the first break.
The ball spent the majority of the time in the Magpies’ forward half and when it did go up to the Tigers’ end Yinnar’s ball movement from their backline to their forwards was quick.
The Magpies scored the first two goals of the second quarter, but the Tigers were not going to give up and responded with two goals of their own.
Leading by 19 points at half-time Yinnar came out firing in the third quarter with three consecutive goals.
The Tigers tried their best and started the final quarter with four consecutive goals to get within 13 points, with Kris Berchtold kicking their third and fourth.
He aimed to get their fifth, but the Magpies moved it out and to their end for a goal.
With little time remaining Leigh Cummins kicked a goal and put Mirboo North’s premiership ambitions to rest.
Mirboo North coach Troy Hamilton said the Tigers gave Yinnar too big of a head start.
“We’ve got a bit of pride, the group, and we tried to get back in, but it just wasn’t enough,” Hamilton said.
Yinnar go on to play Trafalgar in the preliminary final on Saturday.