There will be a widespread sense of déjà vu around the grounds this weekend, as the AGL Loy Yang North Gippsland Football Netball League finals series opens with two familiar fixtures.
Round 18 opponents Traralgon Tyers United and Churchill will reacquaint themselves in the qualifying final at Stephenson Park in Sale, while Rosedale and Sale City will do the same at Gordon St Reserve in Heyfield the following day in the elimination final.
Churchill and Sale City will need to find another level if they are to turn around last weekend’s results on the big stage.
TTU secured outright second spot on the ladder with a 55-point win against the third-placed Cougars.
Dougal Williams starred for the home side, while Lachlan White proved a reliable avenue to goal with six majors in the 16.16 (112) to 8.9 (59) victory.
Jacob Albanese (three goals), Jake Cashmore, Jack Brown and Kade Duncan were the other standouts in an impressive display from the Bombers on the eve of the post-season.
Travis Brighton, Nathan Mcrae and Luke Brereton caught the eye for Churchill, but a sluggish start was costly and coach Chris Williams will be determined to avoid a repeat of that effort this weekend.
Churchill has flown under the radar somewhat this season and the final round result will have done little to change their status as the underdog but a better start to a game on neutral territory will go a long way to closing any perceived gap between the sides.
Unlike Churchill, Sale City does not have the luxury of a second chance to return to winning ways.
The Bulldogs were beginning to show signs of the form that led them to the last two premierships, before running into a brick wall in the shape of Rosedale.
The home side kicked the only goal of the opening term and led by eight points at the first change but it was all downhill from there.
The visiting Blues rattled off six of the next seven goals to lead by 25 points at the main break and kept the reigning premier goalless for the rest of the game to win 12.8 (80) to 2.9 (21).
Rohan Diamond produced a virtuoso display with three goals in a best-on-ground performance, but he had plenty of mates.
Luke Lossberg, Luke Stuckey, Brad Caldwell, Matt Royal (two goals) and the ever-consistent Dale Fleming also impressed in the classy win against City on their own patch.
Despite the encouraging result, Blues coach Sam Bristow was remaining circumspect post-match and ahead of what he tipped to be a “very open” finals series.
“We stuck to our structures and played our way which is good but… they were guaranteed to play [finals] so I’m sure they’ll have a couple that’ll come back in this weekend,” Bristow told the Latrobe Valley Express earlier this week.
“They’re still premiers from last year and they’ve still got a very good outfit.
“The competition is so close that if anyone having an off day they get beaten.”
Jake Main, Abe Schuback and Ben Chivers were good for the Bulldogs, who have plenty of experience to draw on as they prepare for an all or nothing finals campaign.
Woodside was the side to miss out in the three-way battle for the fourth and fifth spots on the ladder.
The Wildcats saw off Gormandale by 72 points in their last game, but it was not enough to close the gap in percentage to Sale City and they finished sixth.
Will Leslie booted five goals and Cam Whiteoak three, with Chris Wirchell, Todd Bryant and Josh Kennedy all firing in the 18.12 (120) to 7.6 (48) win.
Troy Forrest, Jake Bishop and Daniel Domaille performed strongly for the beaten Tigers, who ended the home and away season in eighth place.
Yarram secured its second straight minor premiership in style, with a ruthless 130-point win against Cowwarr.
Coach Matt Scholz returned to the bench after a bout of illness to oversee the 23.15 (153) to 3.5 (23) rout.
Jake Mcfarland booted a handful and Jacob Davis and Tyler Chisholm three apiece, while Dan Vardy, Will Bodman and Griffin Underwood led the charge for the Demons.
Braden Johnston, Sean Alexander and Brett Grieve held their heads high for the Saints, who enjoyed good highlights in the second half of the season but were outclassed by the league’s pacesetters.
The Demons will now sit back and observe as their rivals for the flag battle it out for survival and advantage this weekend, with Corbin Sutherland and Liam Farley among those waiting in the wings for a return to the side in the second semi-final.
In the final game of the home and away season, Glengarry hosted Heyfield with hopes of finding a way to avoid the wooden spoon.
Unfortunately for the Magpies, they were unable to secure the points, falling short 9.6 (60) to 5.12 (42) and collected the unwanted unofficial prize.
Matt Bedggood, Scott Anderson and Jack Woodland spearheaded the win for the Roos, who have commenced the search for a new senior coach as they bid for a return to finals in 2019.
It may have been a disappointing season for Glengarry, but newly-appointed coach Steve Henry will feel he has a bit to work with and the efforts of the likes of Jake Frith, Leigh O’Mara and Gary White against Heyfield were encouraging.
Henry also got a glimpse of the future, with 18-year-old Jack Welch making his senior debut wearing the number 18 black and white jumper, worn previously by his father Bruce.
In the reserves competition, Heyfield secured the minor premiership from Yarram and TTU, who will square off in a qualifying final, with Sale City vying for survival in the elimination final against Gormandale.
In the thirds, Churchill took out the minor premiership in dramatic fashion.
The Cougars lost their final game to TTU, opening the door for second placed Glengarry to pounce, but the Magpies fell short against Heyfield.
Churchill now enjoys the week off with Glengarry meeting TTU in the qualifying final and Heyfield lining up against Rosedale in the elimination final.
Qualifying final – Saturday, 25 August – Stephenson Park, Sale
Seniors: TTU v Churchill
Reserves: Yarram v TTU
Thirds: Glengarry v TTU
A Grade: Churchill v Cowwarr
B Grade: Woodside v Heyfield
C Grade: Sale City v Cowwarr
D Grade: Heyfield v Rosedale
17&U: Yarram v Sale City
15&U: TTU v Cowwarr
Elimination final – Sunday, 26 August – Gordon St Reserve, Heyfield
Seniors: Rosedale v Sale City
Reserves: Sale City v Gormandale
Thirds: Heyfield v Rosedale
A Grade: Sale City v Heyfield
B Grade: Churchill v Rosedale
C Grade: Rosedale v Heyfield
D Grade: TTU v Glengarry
17&U: TTU v Glengarry
15&U: Woodside v Glengarry
Categorised in: Uncategorised
This post was written by Michelle Kyle