Phillip Island’s charge towards the Alex Scott & Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition senior premiership took another step, with victory against Dalyston in Sunday’s do-or-die first semi-final at Inverloch.
The Bulldogs recorded a 13.9 (87) to 9.9 (63) win to send the Magpies crashing out of the finals series in straight sets.
Steven Pimm kicked the opening goal of the game, but it was Dalyston that made the early running, with two first quarter goals to former Carlton star Brad Fisher handing the Magpies a seven-point quarter-time lead.
The Bulldogs shaded a low-scoring second term, but still trailed by a point at the main change.
However, that all changed after half-time, as Phillip Island ran riot with seven goals to one to take a stranglehold on the game.
The Pies held the Island to just three behinds in the final term, but could only bridge the gap to four goals by the final siren and were eliminated from the premiership race.
Jarrod Witnish, Nick Higginson and Jaymie Youle were outstanding for the Bulldogs, while Kyle Kirk, Kristian Butler and Dean Wylie fought hard for Dalyston.
It was a tough end to the season for the Magpies, who won 13 of their first 14 games of the campaign, including a home-and-away double against their bitter rivals and first semi-final vanquishers, before dropping three of their last four regular season games and both finals.
For the Island, though, the dream remains alive, as their run of must-win games enters a fifth week.
Their preliminary final opponent, Cora Lynn, was denied direct entry to the grand final by a one-goal defeat to Inverloch-Kongwak.
The Cobras trailed at every change and tallied 11 fewer scoring shots, but still finished within a kick of the minor premier at Nar Nar Goon on Saturday, eventually going down 12.23 (95) to 13.11 (89).
The Sea Eagles dominated the opening exchanges, registering the first seven scores of the day.
However, all were behinds, containing the margin to 26 points at quarter time and keeping the Cobras in the contest.
By midway through the second term the gap was 31 points, but Cora Lynn kicked the last four majors of the half to cut the difference to just four points.
From there it was arm wrestle, with no side registering more than two unanswered goal for the remainder of the game.
Lachlan Peluso’s goal at the six-minute mark of the third term put the Cobras ahead for the first time, but the Sea Eagles always seemed to have an answer.
Back-to-back goals from Travis Woodfield and Heath Briggs levelled scores at the halfway mark of the final term, but cool heads prevailed with Tom Hams and Andy Soumilas restoring flag frontrunners’ advantage and, despite a late goal to Nathan Langley, they held on to book a grand final berth.
Gun trio Soumilas, Dylan Clark and Josh Purcell were at their damaging best for IK, while Briggs, Andrew Green and Ryan Gillis were the standouts for Cora Lynn.
Over on the netball courts, Korumburra-Bena moved within one win of a perfect season when it downed Phillip Island by nine goals in Saturday’s second semi-final.
The Giants started strongly, with goal attack Kim Hillberg on song, scoring nine of her side’s 12 goals to build a five-goal lead by the first break.
The lead grew in the second and third quarters but the Island never gave the red hot flag favourites an inch and drew the final term 12 goals apiece.
The final score was 47-38, with Hillberg leading all scorers with 29, while Emma Kyle added 13 and junior goaler Chloe Hogg made the most of her quarter on the court, with five goals.
Janelle Smyth finished with 24 goals for the Island and Kelly O’Neill 14.
Phillip Island now faces a preliminary final date with Dalyston in a rematch of the qualifying final.
The Magpies sealed their spot with an 11-goal win against Nar Nar Goon at Inverloch.
Jarney Thomas set the tone from the outset, with 10 goals in the opening quarter on her way to 22 for the first half, to help Dalyston to a 27-17 lead at the main break.
The Goon found their rhythm in the third, cutting the margin back to just two goals by the final change.
However, the Magpies rallied once more and finished the game as they started, winning 50-39.
Thomas accounted for 37 of Dalyston’s 50 goals, with her sister, Britt, contributing the other 13.
Shannon Johns led the charge for The Goon with 27 goals, while partner-in-crime Ash Coombes added 12.
Preliminary finals fixture – Saturday, 9 September at Garfield Recreation Reserve
Seniors: Cora Lynn v Phillip Island
Reserves: Phillip Island v Dalyston
Under-18: Garfield v Inverloch Kongwak
Under-16: Garfield v Bunyip
A grade: Phillip Island v Dalyston
B grade: Dalyston v Cora Lynn
C grade: Dalyston v Cora Lynn
17-and-Under: Korumburra Bena v Inverloch-Kongwak
15-and-Under: Korumburra Bena v Dalyston
13-and-Under: Koo Wee Rup v Dalyston
Image courtesy of Pakenham Gazette