Phillip Island has crept into the inaugural Alex Scott and Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition finals series, following a final round upset against Nar Nar Goon.
The 55-point win against the fourth-placed Goon catapulted the Bulldogs above Koo Wee Rup and into fifth spot on percentage.
It was a heartbreaking result for the Demons, who dropped out of the finals race at the final hurdle, despite upsetting second-placed Dalyston by one point, while Kilcunda Bass’ 44-point defeat of Korumburra-Bena proved too little too late as well, as the Panther finished one game further back.
But it was the Island that turned the most heads, with an impressive performance in what has proven a pre-cursor to this Sunday’s elimination final.
All the big names stood up, with Jack Taylor, Nick Higginson, Brendan Kimber, Jaymie Youle and Jarrod Witnish (three goals) among the best and Steven Pimm bagging four goals in the 11.19 (85) to 4.6 (30) win.
The Goon were missing some key players, but still had enough quality on the ground, with the likes of Tyler Joosten, Matt Stevens and Tom Dovaston (two goals) the better performers on the day.
Kris Fletcher’s men will need to bounce back quickly if they are to avoid an equally hasty post-season campaign.
Koo Wee Rup ended its season on what should have been a high, but will be seen as anything but.
The Demons recorded a thrilling one-point victory against the highly rated Magpies, with Chris Dyker, Nathan Muratore and Anthony Giuliano all firing in the 12.14 (86) to 12.13 (85) win.
Unfortunately Phillip Island’s late percentage boost meant they fell to sixth and were left to wonder what might have been.
Kyle Kirk, Dean Wylie and Michael Marotta were among the best for Dalyston, which slipped to third spot on the ladder.
It makes no difference to the qualifying final matchup, but it remains to be seen if it has a psychological impact to finish behind Cora Lynn.
Inverloch Kongwak sealed the minor premiership with a comprehensive win against Garfield.
The Sea Eagles cruised to a 19.12 (126) to 4.5 (29) win with Josh Purcell, Andy Soumilas and Clinton McCaughan prominent and Toby Mahoney booting five goals.
They now have a week off to prepare for a second semi-final showdown against the winner of Saturday’s qualifying final.
Garfield finished the season in eighth place, with Adam Macgibbon, Daniel Helmore and retiring Harley Lacunes among the best on the final day.
The Stars look set for a rebuild with Jarryd Drew, Tyson Payne and Darcy Payne all confirming their departures at season’s end for various reasons.
Cora Lynn capitalised on Dalyston’s slip to snatch second spot on the ladder via a 33-point win against Bunyip.
The Cobras will have enjoyed the opportunity to warm up for finals against hungry opposition, with the resurgent Bulldogs proving a tough nut to crack in the back half of the season.
Lochie Peluso was the best player on the ground with four goals, while Kevin Vandenberghe and Justin Markulija were among the other standouts in the 20.16 (136) to 15.13 (103) win.
Electric forward Ryan Gillis made the most of the open forward line in the absence of league leading goalkicker Nathan Langley to boot a season-high six goals.
Following the pattern of their season, the Bulldogs will take plenty of positives from the final quarter of the game, in which they booted seven-goals to three, but need to assess what went wrong prior to that point.
Michael Laszczyk was Bunyip’s best, while Joel Gibson, Lachlan Petch and Jason Fisher (five goals) were also standouts.
Kilcunda Bass’ story was similar to that of Koo Wee Rup, with the pleasure of a final round win tempered by the reality of missing finals.
The Panthers were in control all day against Korumburra-Bena and eventually secured the points 10.13 (73) to 4.5 (29).
Jason Wells booted a game-high four goals, with Brent Macaffer, Bradley Aldwell and Dale Crawford among the notable performers for Kilcunda Bass.
Brock Dorling, Will Jeffs and Ash Snooks were best for the Giants, who finished bottom of the pile and collected the inaugural wooden spoon, but can take plenty of heart from registering their win since 2015 and fielding a competitive outfit for the most part of the season.
The top five may have been set in the A grade netball competition, but the final round still held some interest at both ends of the ladder.
Bunyip hosted Cora Lynn with the two sides locked on 24 points.
The home side led at every change and secured the win 51-29 and seventh spot on the ladder.
Phillip Island warmed up for a qualifying final showdown with Dalyston, with a 69-48 win against fourth-placed Nar Nar Goon.
Janelle Smyth was in top nick with 44 goals in a best on court performance, while Kasey Beattie was also in good form for the home side.
Shannon Johns (30 goals) and Ash Coombes (18) shot well for The Goon.
Dalyston avoided a potential banana skin moment at Koo Wee Rup, securing second spot from the Island with a 48-28 win against the fifth-placed Demons.
Steph Broadway (16), Bec Christie (9) and Alexis Bell (3) were among the goals for the home side, which missed the opportunity the snatch four-place from their confirmed elimination final opponent Nar Nar Goon.
Korumburra-Bena completed a perfect home and away season with a 70-11 final round win against Kilcunda Bass, which finished ninth.
Inverloch-Kongwak shored up their sixth-place finish with a 115-8 win against wooden spoon recipient Garfield.