By TOM HAYES
THAT’S 18 rounds of the North Gippsland Football-Netball League done and dusted, starting with 11 sides – we’re now down to the final five.
Finals begin as this weekend, with five soon to be trimmed to four.
Positions are signed, sealed and delivered as we prepare for an entertaining finals series which hopes to not disappoint.
IT’S hard to defeat the undefeated.
Churchill travelled to Tyers, needing to beat the unbeaten Traralgon Tyers United to ensure a top three berth.
It proved difficult, as you could assume, as TTU drowned the Cougars, displaying the classy footy they have done all year.
Churchill started strong by slotting the first goal of the game, but for the next 25 minutes, the Bombers had every avenue covered.
The home side went on to kick five in the quarter, to hold a 27-point lead at quarter time, stopping Churchill in their tracks.
The Cougars stuck to their game plan, but were unable to account for TTU’s gut running in the middle, making their forward-50 entries count.
TTU added 7.2 (44) to 2.2 (14) in the second term to practically put the game to bed, holding a monster 57-point halftime lead.
In the third term, the Bombers appeared to have their way with the Cougars, slowly putting the final daggers in.
Churchill, much like the first half, looked a step behind in most facets, which only highlighted how good TTU are.
Another 6.1 (37) was added to the Bombers’ score, as Churchill could only muster 1.2 (8), a triple-figure margin loomed, as the 86-point buffer currently stood.
With the game out of reach, Churchill set out to win their final quarter of footy in the home-and-away season, trying to take a positive step into finals.
You could say that was achieved, just, as the Cougars threw big bodies forward and registered 5.6 (36) for the quarter to TTU’s 5.3 (33).
The margin at the final siren read a margin of 83 points, 23.10 (148) to 9.11 (65).
Mitchell Mustoe was unstoppable in the middle for the Bombers, joining him in the best was Jye Neilson (four goals), Frazar Brouns (six goals), Oscar Aliotta, Beau White and Liam Willaton.
Blake Slater went forward late and kicked four goals for Churchill, earning him a stop in the best, as did Tom Sevenson, Jordan Fenech, Nick Celima, Dillon Leys and Ben Kearns.
TTU now get a bye and will play the winner of Woodside and Heyfield for a spot in the Grand Final, while Churchill will have to do it all again against Yallourn Yallourn North, following a three-point defeat to them just a fortnight ago.
THE Roos leaped to third.
Heyfield would’ve been confident going into their final home-and-away game knowing they were coming up against a bottom-half side.
They handed a senior debut to thirds youngster Ethan Davies, the defender showing great form in his age grade.
Needing a win (and Churchill to lose) to secure top three, the odds were in the Kangaroos’ favour, and boy did they cash in.
The Kangaroos are one of, if not the most in-form teams right now, dispersing the fact that TTU are undefeated, Heyfield’s climb has been one to watch.
They did it quite comfortably against Cowwarr at the weekend, who made sure to give them a small fright on their journey.
The tone was set from the get-go, as Heyfield burst out to a 27-point lead at quarter time, setting up what could have been another thumping.
But Cowwarr retaliated, which no doubt would have put the Kangaroos on the back-foot.
The Saints kicked 5.2 (32) to just 3.4 (22), dragging the margin to within three kicks – 17 points at the main break.
But from here on out, Heyfield were easily able to account for the Saints, taking their bet all the way to the bank, to cash in on their double-chance winnings.
The Kangaroos extended the margin back out to 27 by three quarter time, before putting things beyond doubt and sealing the 33-point win, 14.17 (101) to 10.8 (68).
It was by no means their best performance, but it proves that they can get the job done while going through some adversity on the field, shown in the second term.
Youngster Asher Eastham led the line for Heyfield, kicking three goals, but it was Robert McMillan, Mitch Bennett, Nick Dinsdale, Tyson Birss, Liam Heasley and Max Van Der Zwart who stood out.
Cowwarr’s best and fairest Ben Coffey kicked three goals and was rewarded with a best-on for the Saints, joining him was Jackson Davison, Kyle Stamers (three goals), Rhys Luxford, Mathew Leicester and Wayne Swan.
The Saints’ own Shane Galea was chaired off after the game, after announcing his retirement.
Heyfield will now take on Woodside, who have easily been second fiddle to TTU all year, but can the young side take it to one of the league’s best?
Lose, and they face the winner of Churchill and YYN in a do-or-die clash.
WOODSIDE enter finals on a positive note.
The Wildcats and Demons endured a slow start to proceedings, one that saw just a goal each in the first term.
Yarram have potentially had the most unpredictable season of results, and perhaps we were getting a taste why that was the case.
The floodgates certainly opened after quarter time, Woodside took a three-point lead into the break.
In the second term, both sides were on song, but Woodside edged out their counterparts slightly, this time to hold a 15-point lead over the Demons, still not out of the fight yet.
Woodside extended their margin, but Yarram didn’t seem to be done with yet.
The Wildcats added 3.2 (20) to 1.2 (8), which saw the margin rise to 27 points, but the game was going to go one of two ways from here.
And it went the way of Woodside, who kicked 7.5 (47) to 1.1 (7) in the final term to take the margin above 11 goals, sealing the win without a shadow of doubt.
Woodside’s Daniel Farmer leaped over YYN’s Dean Macdonald in the goal-kicking ranks in the final round of the home-and-away season, booting six goals to lead the count 82 to Macdonald’s 80.
Ryan Foat, Matt Dyke, Tom King, Joh Fythe, Adam Janssen and Darcy McAlpine were standouts for the Wildcats.
As for Yarram, Griffin Underwood shone, as did Liam Bentley, Daniel Vardy, Boadie Motton, Demons’ best-and-fairest Dylan Garnham and Tyler Chisholm.
With Yarram’s season done and dusted, it is just Woodside who have a game to look forward to next weekend; Heyfield in a qualifying final.
SALE CITY ended their season on a high.
The Bulldogs made sure to finish their season with four more points in the bank, getting past Rosedale at home.
It was a special day for the home side, who had two milestones to celebrate.
Daniel Bird played his 350th game and Tom Bowman racked up his 200th senior game, following an on-off career with the Bulldogs that began in 2000.
Sale City kept Rosedale to nothing in the opening quarter, but could only muster 2.3 (15) for themselves, keeping the Blues in it.
The second quarter was all red, white and blue, as the Bulldogs piled on 6.4 (40) to 2.1 (13), giving them a handy 42-point lead at halftime.
Rosedale didn’t make it easy, climbing back in the third term, scoring 5.2 (32) to 3.4 (22). Still down by five goals, it was going to take a massive effort to win from here.
Perhaps that margin was too high to climb, as Rosedale got close, but not close enough, going down by 23 points, 14.15 (99) to 12.4 (76).
Bulldogs runner-up best and fairest Jaxsyn Whitehill pipped eventual winner Blake Safstrom to get best-on-ground. They were joined by Lachlan Carman, Billy Quirk, Cam Green and Joel Safstrom.
Harry Foat set the example for Rosedale, as did Spencer Fox, Luke Stuckey, Max Lazzaro, Corey Buys and Connor Macleod.
GLENGARRY ended on the right note and got out of 10th position.
They locked up their third win of the season, besting Gormandale in a tough battle.
The Tigers didn’t back down easily, going ahead in the opening term and holding an eight-point advantage at the break.
But the Magpies swooped in and regained the lead, keeping Gormandale to a point in the second term to then take their own nine-point lead into halftime.
Their lead doubled by three quarter time, but by no means was this safe, as scoring went either way in the third quarter.
But Glengarry was able to hold on and deny Gormandale their first win of the season, locking up a 20-point win away from home, 10.15 (75) to 8.7 (55).
Jake Read was named best-on-ground for the Magpies, complimented by Michael Ryan, Riley Adams, Matt Scholtes, Beau Hutton and Thomas Harris.
Isaac Copland was influential for the Tigers, and was helped by Flynn Roscoe, Nick Millington, Tristan Salerno, Noah Copland and Jodie Owen.
YYN had the bye.
Finals get underway this weekend, with two huge fixtures, and soon five will be four.
Woodside takes on Heyfield at Churchill, the winner plays TTU the following week while the loser has another chance against the winner of the elimination final.
YYN and Churchill will lock horns in Yarram to keep their season alive.
If their last game just a fortnight ago is anything to go off, we are in for a treat.