NORTH GIPPSLAND FNL
THE hype surrounding what many believe was a prelude to this season’s grand final failed to live up to expectations as Heyfield ran away from Churchill at Gaskin Park on Saturday.
Over the past 10 weeks the Cougar express train has taken no passengers as it eclipsed the competition, but it was finally derailed by a classy Kangaroos side on the eve of finals footy.
For Heyfield, the round 18 win was merely part of its amazing run of 17, but the minor premier was tested in the early stages with Churchill’s missed opportunities proving telling at the final siren.
Four points separated the sides in round eight, but on Saturday it was 39, with the forward brilliance of Jesse Bedggood and Jess Jackway, with cameo performances from Josh Stubbe and Kodie Woodland, testing a stretched Cougar backline.
Little separated the sides early in the contest with the finals style atmosphere evident by the nerves and rushed passages of play that featured, the ball rebounding between the two half-backlines with neither side able to apply scoreboard pressure early in the piece.
It was the home side that settled first with a goal through Brandon Mahoney on the run.
Teammate Joe Whykes looked to send the Cougars forward again before he was halted in his tracks by a bone crunching tackle from Cam Garrett who was rewarded with the free kick and sent a clear message from the Heyfield camp.
With a run of behinds on the board Jackway settled the Kangaroos with their first major at the 12-minute mark.
After a dogged term the margin was five behinds at the change of ends in Heyfield’s favour.
Churchill hit the target early in the second to level scores, Nic Dinsdale had his chances but failed to make the distance before teammate Kodie Woodland slotted through his first seven minutes into the term. Jackway was everywhere, setting up a number of opportunities in front of goal as he pushed the patience of defender Jordon Fenech.
But his teammates struggled to find the posts; a second miss to Nic Dinsdale in as many minutes resulted in Churchill pushing forward with Whykes swooping on the ball to goal.
Stubbe got the quick reply followed by a long bomb from Jack Woodland on the run which had the Kangaroos bench on their feet.
Down and out Whykes was left dazed and uneasy on his feet, as the Kangaroos continued their run on the scoreboard. A sublime one handed pick up by Bedggood provided the visitors with a two goal lead at the 20-minute mark.
Bedggood had his second when Jackway and Kodie Woodland combined to hit him on the chest in front of Jarrod Broadbent, before Jackway added his side’s fifth for the term to build a handy 24-point buffer.
The premiership term was rather matter of fact; best on ground Nic Dowse was all class, and his vision to hit effective running teammates in Jack Woodland, Garrett and Stubbe was influential in creating run off half-back.
Likewise the staunch Scott Anderson was the master of a productive defence, which was given some respite with Brendan Holt missing from the line-up and Tim Darby, despite booting three, kept relatively in check before coming to life in the early stages of the fourth.
Heyfield led by more than seven goals at the last change but goals from Brad Knowles, Darby and Chris Williams kept nerves jangling.
However, the visitors had the answers with Kodie Woodland and Bedggood steadying the flow of goals with a response of their own to ensure victory, 16.18 (114) to 11.9 (75).
Woodside v Cowwarr
TRAILING by five points at half-time Woodside was forced to dig deep and find something extra to keep its finals pulse beating.
Ryan Foat booted six in his side’s 20.15 (135) to 11.9 (75) win, helping the Wildcats snatch fifth position from neighbours Yarram on percentage, who watched from the sidelines with the bye in round 18.
With their end of season ambitions dashed, the Saints had plenty to prove early.
Goal sneak Ben Plozza was causing headaches for the Wildcats’ defence, registering several of his match high four goals in the opening half.
A resurgent Wildcats line-up emerged from the rooms at half-time, slamming home eight goals to two with Shane Kilgower, Tom King, Tom Love and Foat the impetus behind the turnaround.
Leading by six goals at the final change, Woodside went about further boosting its percentage with a further seven majors in a stellar 15 goal second half of football. A mere .72 per cent separates the Wildcats and Demons who both face top teams in the last round to determine which plays finals footy.
Sale City v TTU
SALE CITY had to unleash a withering third quarter burst of five goals to overrun a determined and hard-working Traralgon Tyers United, 14.14 (98) to 7.10 (52).
With scores locked at 41 points apiece at half-time, TTU looked to impose its presence in the early stages of the premiership term, however the Dogs kicked away to a 26-point lead.
City continued its relentless attack on the footy in the final term, kicking a further three goals while holding the home side goalless to win by 46 points.
The visitor’s majors came through Mitch Bennett (four) and Nick Grainger (three), while for the Bombers Nic Campbell was the pick of the goal scorers booting three majors.
Glengarry v Bois/Briag
REIGNING premier Glengarry proved too strong for Boisdale/Briagolong, marking coach Ryan Potters final match at the helm with a 29-point victory.
Subdued in the first half, an undermanned Glengarry came out firing in the premiership quarter, booting four goals to one, on the way to blowing the game open. Boisdale/Briagolong had held their own in an impressive opening half, leading the Magpies by seven points at the first change, a margin reduced to a straight kick at the long break.
However, the brakes were applied in the second half with the visitors unable to match Glengarry’s intensity which saw the home side register seven majors to two.
Rosedale v Gormandale
A SIX-goal-to-one first term by Rosedale was the impetus for the third placed Blues’ 22.18 (150) to 10.6 (66) victory over Gormandale.
With a large crowd gathering for Rosedale’s 130 year celebrations and finals in sight, the Blues turned it on in front of past players and officials, with a strong first quarter setting the tone.
The perennial finalist did not look back, leading at each change to win by 84.