Cora Lynn drew first blood in the inaugural Alex Scott and Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition finals series, downing Dalyston by 55 points in the qualifying final at Koo Wee Rup.
With spoils shared during the two home-and-away season meetings, expectations were high for a tight contest, but a third quarter onslaught from the Cobras put paid to that.
In truth, the Magpies were on the ropes at half-time, with Jai Rout registering three of his six goals for the day to lead Cora Lynn to a 29-point advantage.
Dalyston managed a goal either side of the half-time break, through Brad Fisher and Blake Carew, but the Cobras got the three before and the six after to lead by 51 at the final change.
The final term was well-contested, but the result a formality, as Cora Lynn claimed a 19.10 (124) to 10.9 (69) victory.
Nathan Gillis, Jeremy Monckton and Andrew Green were the standouts for Cora Lynn, with Ryan Gillis (four goals) and Nathan Langley (three) providing plenty of support for standout forward Rout.
Kristian Butler, Fisher and Dean Wylie were best for Dalyston, with full-forward Michael Kraska finishing with a team-high three goals.
It was the Cobras’ eighth straight win and their 11th from their past 12 games.
The former Ellinbank and District Football League powerhouse will now meet minor premier Inverloch-Kongwak in Saturday’s second semi-final at Nar Nar Goon.
The Magpies, on the other hand, were among the competition’s most impressive outfits for much of the season, but have now lost four of their past five games and must now regroup for a do-or-die clash with bitter rival Phillip Island.
The Bulldogs raised eyebrows with a 73-point win at Inverloch Recreation Reserve to eliminate Nar Nar Goon.
The Goon made seven changes to the side that lost by 65 points in the final round one week earlier, while the Island went in unchanged and the consistency showed, as the Bulldogs raced out to a 25-point quarter-time lead.
It went from bad to worse for The Goon, who were unable to add to Shannon Stocco’s first quarter goal until the final term, as Phillip Island retained an iron grip on proceedings.
The final score was 14.10 (94) to 2.9 (21).
Mark Griffin, Nick Higginson and Jaymie Youle were the catalysts for the Bulldogs, while Jack Taylor added four goals in an all-action performance.
Brendan Hermann, Josh Grant and Zac Stewart battled hard for The Goon, who will be disappointed not to have extended their season by another week, given their stellar back half of the campaign.
Four sides now remain in contention for the senior premiership.
The reward for the winner of Saturday’s clash between Inverloch-Kongwak and Cora Lynn is a spot in the inaugural grand final, while the loser faces the long way around, via the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Dalyston and Phillip Island.
The Magpies will be desperate to arrest their slide and avoid tumbling out in straight sets after an excellent home and away season, while Phillip Island appears to be peaking at the right time.
Either way, the Sea Eagles and Cobras will be keen to avoid another match in such a tight and unpredictable competition.
Image courtesy of Pakenham Gazette