A third quarter masterclass from Churchill has ended Sale City’s bid for a third straight AGL Loy Yang North Gippsland Football Netball League premiership.
The Cougars trailed by four points at half-time of last Sunday’s first semi-final at Woodside Recreation Reserve, before unleashing a 10-goal-to-two third term – including three from Ben Kearns – to lead by 48 points at the final change.
The Bulldogs won the final term but the damage was done and Churchill claimed the win 19.11 (125) to 12.14 (86) to book their spot in the preliminary final.
Kearns, who missed last week’s qualifying final defeat to Traralgon-Tyers United, finished with seven goals on his return to the side and was joined in the best by fellow inclusion Allan Chandler, Ben Skinner, Nathan Mcrae, Ben Mason and Ryan Harvey.
Nick Grainger booted six for the Dogs, with Ben Chivers, Evan Johnson and Chris Kelf among the other solid contributors.
The Cougars now face a re-match with TTU in this weekend’s preliminary final, after the Bombers came up short against Yarram in the second semi-final at Rosedale Recreation Reserve.
The Bombers started brightly and skipped out to a two-goal lead at quarter-time.
However, the Demons responded in emphatic fashion and flipped the game on its head to take a 24-point lead into the main break.
Yarram increased the margin to 31 points by three quarter time and held TTU and saw out the game well to win 14.10 (94) to 9.8 (62).
The victory booked the Demons a second straight grand final date and they will hope the direct route works better for them this year than it did last year.
The Demons added Corbin Sutherland, Liam Farley and Zacharie Richards to the side that dismantled Cowwarr in round 18, but it was the continued good form of Louis Rodaughan (four goals), Dan Vardy and Will Bodman that proved vital.
Chris Bruns, Griffin Underwood and Tyler Chisholm were other standouts, while 10 individual goalkickers was again a feature of Yarram’s game.
Kade Duncan caught the eye for the Bombers with three goals, while Dougal Williams, Tyler Mustoe and Simon Noy were also prominent.
There was more good news for Yarram in the reserves second semi-final, with the Demons knocking off minor premier Heyfield 7.11 (53) to 3.7 (25) to reach the grand final.
Jeremy Babb, Jesse Biemans and Ryan Coulthard led the way for Yarram, which again had seven individual goalkickers for the day.
Matt Stevenson, Robbie Stevenson and Ryan Bean were best for the Roos, who now face TTU in the preliminary final, after the Bombers downed Gormandale in the first semi-final.
Nic Albanese booted four goals in a best on ground performance, with Luke Blackwood and Ben White among the other main contributors in the 10.15 (75) to 6.4 (40) victory.
Lewis Prince, Tim Harris and Josh Membrey battled hard for the Tigers, who remain one of the feel-good stories of the season.
In the thirds, Churchill booked a grand final place with a narrow win against Glengarry.
Blake Whykes and Dustin Weir were among the goals and Joel Mason, Cain Iorangi and Patrick Kearns among the stars in the 10.6 (66) to 8.6 (54) win.
Colby Morley, Riley Evans and Jake Venturoni played well for the Magpies and joint league leading goalkicker Jack Balfour continued his good form in front of the sticks with four goals.
Glengarry now faces TTU in the preliminary final, following the Bombers’ 24 point win against Heyfield.
The Kangaroos’ inaccuracy in front of goal proved crucial as the Bombers won 7.6 (48) to 2.12 (24).
Jordan Jobling, Bryce Renwick and Hayden Leslie starred for TTU, while Sam Dwyer, Dylan Patmore and Will Logan fought hard for Heyfield.
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This post was written by Michelle Kyle