Pubished on 2 September 2022

By David Nagel

Inverloch-Kongwak is the first team eliminated from the 2022 West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) finals series after Warragul Industrials prevailed by 14 points in the first elimination final at Bass.

The Dusties – who finished the home-and-away season in sixth place – entered the game as underdogs against the third-placed Sea Eagles…and early indicators suggested that ladder positions would hold true.

Inverloch dominated the first quarter, having 17 inside 50’s to just four, but the Dusties backline held firm, trailing by just two points at the first break, with momentum gradually shifting in the second quarter.

With Matt Herbert and Luke Walker playing brilliant games across half back, the Dusties took a five-point half-time lead after goals to Bailey Beck, Mason McGarrity and Anthony Bruhn.

When Bruhn kicked another to start to third, and then found Michael Debenham loose inside forward 50, the Dusties had opened up a 19-point lead at the 12-minute mark of the third.

But the Sea Eagles responded, with a cracking banana from the boundary from Dylan Clark, and a set shot from Oscar Toussaint, narrowing the margin to five points at three-quarter time.

The teams went goal-for-goal in the first 10 minutes of the final term, before majors to Travis Ogden and Adrian De Sando gave the Dusties a well-deserved and richly-celebrated – 9.7.61 to 6.11.47 victory.

Coach Harmit Singh was a very proud man after leading the Dusties to their first finals victory in the WGFNC.

“Unbelievably proud, obviously we’d fallen short against Inverloch throughout the year, they’re a quality side who dominated the contest the last time we played them,” Singh said.

“But the boys really committed to playing the way we wanted to play today and I’m just super proud of the way went about it.

“We grinded early to stay in the game, Inverloch was well on top around the contest, but our backs held on and I felt we were able to get some momentum going our way in the second quarter.

“We were incredibly resilient today, our pressure was pretty good, and it was great to make the most of our opportunities in the last quarter.

“In finals, in last quarters, it’s just the want and desire to win or halve critical contests, when you’re fatigued and hurting, that makes the difference, and our boys showed great courage and resilience to get over the line today.

“We’re excited to see what we can do for the rest of this year’s finals series.”

Bruhn and De Sando kicked two each for the Dusties, while Will Gibson, Shane Brewster and Corey Micari joined Herbert and Walker in solid four-quarter performances.

Inverloch’s loss signals the end of Ben Soumilas’s senior-coaching role at the club, with the premiership-winning mentor stepping down from the gig.

Toussaint and Clark booted two each for the vanquished, while Shem Hawking, Ethan Park and Jarvis Pryor could hold their heads high.

The Dusties now meet Cora Lynn in Sunday’s first semi-final at Cora Lynn.