Cougars purr past Blues



CHURCHILL handed coach Allan Chandler his first finals victory in North Gippsland following a blistering third term in Saturday’s qualifying final against Rosedale.

There were wild swings of momentum, a barrage of goals and a hard fought comeback in the quarter which resulted in the Cougars booting six-goals-to-one to arrest the lead and dictate the second half.

It was in vast contrast to the opening half in which Churchill appeared content to sit back while Rosedale’s running midfield backed itself in the contest and drilled the ball into forwards Brandon McDonald and Jeremy Reid, who inflicted the damage on the scoreboard.

Churchill started strong, rebounding from defence in the opening minute of play to send the ball barnstorming forward to score.

They had a second from the subsequent centre clearance through Nick Campbell, which was answered by Rosedale’s Reid who took a juggling mark to score.

Reid added his second following a stellar intercept by Jon Cantwell who chopped off the Cougars’ kick.

Cantwell then combined with the fleet footed Rowan Diamond, who pumped the ball long into the forward 50.

Crashing the marking pack Reid gained possession and snapped the Blues’ second and his first of three straight.

Churchill’s Dean Degroot reeled one back, splitting the sticks from outside 40, as the sides exchanged blows on the scoreboard.

It was followed by majors to Travis Brighton and Chris Williams as the Cougars looked to skip away.

However, the Blues’ fourth ahead of quarter-time reeled the margin back to a straight kick at the first change.

Churchill scored the opener of the second term, before Rosedale went about at will in front of goal; Luke Stuckey and McDonald were in on the action and made it three goals in-a-row for the Blues.

Brad Scott was instrumental in setting up the Blues’ fourth for the term, combining with Frazer Brouns to provide the side with a five point lead.

Consecutive misses to Churchill handed Rosedale a reprieve, before the Cougars scored through Campbell to hit the front.

It was short lived, McDonald added another to steal the lead, followed by Stuckey’s second which was gifted after an undisciplined act by Kurt Holt resulted in a 50 metre penalty when he failed to pass the ball back.

The Blues took an eight point lead into the long break.

It was a hungry and focused Churchill outfit that emerged from the rooms, returning fire with six unanswered majors in a blistering premiership term, which saw forward Tim Darby dictate play.

The Cougars’ brilliance turned an eight point deficit into a 22 point lead at the final change.

Despite both sides hitting the scoreboard early, the goal umpires were kept relatively quiet in the final term, with Churchill doing enough to put the result beyond doubt 17.18 (120) to 12.14 (86).

Sale City v Woodside (Elimination final)

EIGHT majors from Sale City’s Jake Schuback helped steer the Dogs to a 40 point victory over Woodside, 19.9 (123) to 12.11 (83).

It took the Dogs until the seven minute mark of the first term to register their opening goal, however from that point City’s power forward Schuback and the running brigade had the ball on a string.

Seven points separated the sides in a tight opening term, with both registering their first poins before scoring completely dried up.

It then became one way traffic after the Dogs packed numbers around the stoppages, with their rovers reading the taps better than the Wildcats 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 their seasoned campaigners to dominate passages of play.

Jake Milham, Brad McKay and Brandon Rathdowne were the main playmakers and amassed contested possessions.

Josh Griffin opened the scoring for the Wildcats following a free kick, Woodside’s first of two on the run with Adrian Fazioli roving the pack to snap true.

The arm wrestle continued in the second term, before the Dogs slowly gained the ascendency.

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 latter goal being touched over the line, halted the Wildcats in their tracks.

Running on confidence the Dogs did not have any such troubles at the opposite end of the ground as Rathdowne registered a goal on the rebound.

Wildcats best on ground Shane Kilgower chopped off defender Tim Dimarco’s errant kick to steady his side and keep them in touch on the scoreboard, 17 points the margin.

It was followed by the side’s third for the term after coach Chris 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 to goal.

But, as they had done at will in the opening half, the Dogs capitalised on the turnover; Milham combined with Mitch Bennett to score ahead of half-time to make it, 8.5 (53) to 5.7 (37).

The third term belonged to City’s Nick Grainger.

Grainger was everywhere, and such was his dominance Pettitt rotated three different opponents on the playmaker.

However Grainger could not be contained, nor teammate Josh Barbetti who hunted the ball around the pack and hurt the Wildcats for their errors.

Schuback added to his tally in the third along with Bennett, while at the other end of the ground Griffin registered his second with the margin seven goals at the final change.

Two quick goals to kick off the final term had Woodside up and about; Kilgower and Kerr were working hard to reel the margin in however inaccuracy in front of goal proved costly.

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 before the ball had returned to the centre square, and an infringement by a Wildcats defender saw the ball again in Evans hands, this time from 20 metres out directly in front.

From that point the match was dusted.

Late majors to the Wildcats chipped away at the deficit however the damage had already been done.

Rathdowne found plenty of the ball, Shay Ferguson was instrumental down back and made an impact when pushing forward, while Brad Flealy was dogged in and around the contests.

Woodside’s Kilgower never gave up and was well supported by Ryan Foat, Ben Johnson and Sholz.