By David Nagel
Warragul Industrials has booked a ticket to its first finals campaign in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) with a stirring come-from-behind victory over Kooweerup on Saturday.
The Dusties looked dead and buried, trailing by 29 points at the final break, before unleashing a 6.2 to 1.1 final term on their way to a 10.12.72 to 10.10.70 triumph.
Three last-quarter goals to Kyle Staples, who was pushed deep in the final stanza – and a match-winner from winger Todd Beck, were the highlights of the last-quarter resurgence.
Dusties coach Harmit Singh admits things were looking a little desperate at three-quarter time.
“Full credit to Kooweerup, they didn’t allow us to get any flow into our game, but we made some changes at three-quarter time and fortunately they paid off…we were able to get some momentum,” Singh said.
“We started moving the ball how we like to move the ball and that created some opportunities.
“Our connection was much better, and we had six or seven marks inside 50, where we only had the same amount for the first three quarters.
“We also forced some turnovers in our front half, which was really pleasing…it showed a lot of grit from the group to finish the game off strongly.
“The last quarter was some of the best football we’ve played this year.”
The Dusties finished last, with a 2-16 record in their first year in the WGFNC, and were slightly behind the ledger with a 5-6 output last year.
The Dusties are developing fast, and loom as a fly-in-the-ointment side heading into this year’s finals series.
“I think it’s nice to do it (make finals) of our own accord, rather than relying on results over the next two weeks, and hopefully we can build on the weekend’s result and continue to play good footy,” Singh said.
“We’re not putting a ceiling on how far we can go, because there’s belief within our group that our best footy is of a really good standard and can challenge the really good teams.
“When we play our brand, and have 21 contributors, our brand really stacks up.”
Staples turned the game for the Dusties, kicking all three of his goals in the final term, while Beck’s ability to drift forward – take a strong grab and convert – was critical to the final outcome.
Kooweerup will be absolutely rueing this result, which sees them slip to seventh place on the ladder behind Bunyip.
Jason Wells was once again magnificent up forward, booting seven of the demons 10 goals, while Matt Voss, Nathan Muratore and Tim Miller did all they could to get the home side across the line.
The demons head to Cora Lynn this week, while the Dusties host Inverloch at Western Park.
A brave Bunyip is breathing a massive sigh of relief after the Bulldogs survived an after-the-siren kick at goal to down Kilcunda-Bass by four points in a thriller at Bunyip on Saturday.
It all came down to a 50-metre kick from the boundary from star Panthers forward Taylor Gibson, who gave it his best shot…but fell narrowly short of his target to give Bunyip the precious four points.
The Panthers led at every change, but the Bulldogs came home hard after trailing by 11 points at three-quarter time.
Having kicked just four goals to the final break, the Doggies needed a spark and it came very early into the final term.
Aaron Paxton, who would play a hand in three last-quarter goals, fired quick hands to Dylan Gallasch who ran into an open goal to cut the margin to five points after a minute of play.
But any hopes the Bulldogs had of rolling over the Panthers were soon dashed, with Gibson marking and goaling just a minute later.
The fast start to the final term then continued with Paxton outmanoeuvring his opponent to mark strongly, directly in front, 20 metres out from goal.
Paxton duly converted, before becoming provider once again, firing quick hands again to Ash Allen who tumbled one through from 30 out.
After 10 minutes of play, scores were locked at 47 apiece.
Nathan Allen then produced a critical piece of play, first earning a free-kick with a great tackle inside forward-50, before finding Daniel Helmore on the lead.
Helmore, who had been held goalless until that stage of the match, slammed one through the big sticks to put the Doggies a goal up at the 16-minute mark of the term.
Gibson then missed with two difficult shots, cutting the margin back to four points, before marking strongly and calmly dissecting the woodwork.
The Panthers were on the precipice of breaking their three-game losing streak…two points up at the 24-minute mark of the final quarter.
But there was one more twist in the tale, with Helmore taking a contested grab and lining up from 35 metres out.
The classy right-footer produced a classic pressure kick, splitting the posts to give the Doggies back the lead.
Ash Allen and Jye Keath would take match-saving marks for the home side in the dying minutes of play….before Gibson had his chance to be a hero.
Chris Thuring, Jeb McLeod and Ryan Quirk had some important touches at crucial times for the winners, while Nathan Foote and Dale Gawley continued their extraordinarily consistent seasons for the Panthers.
Gibson finished with three for the vanquished, while Gallasch and Helmore were two-goal heroes for the Doggies.
Bunyip host Phillip Island this week, while the Panthers will be keen to bounce back on a trip to Korumburra-Bena.
Dermott Yawney was the star of the show at Spencer Street, with the Nar Nar Goon full-forward bagging nine goals in a 25.15.165 to 0.1.1 demolition job of Korumburra-Bena.
The decline of the Giants is a story for another day, but Yawney’s feast and four goals to former dangerman Jake Smith were highlights of the one-way traffic.
Kyle O’Sullivan, Brendan Hermann and Trent Armour were terrific through the midfield, in a game that was hardly the ideal preparation for a visit to a rebounding Tooradin this week.
In other games, Cora Lynn spearhead Nathan Gardiner kicked six goals as the Cobras locked away a finals berth with a 14.15.99 to 7.5.47 victory over Dalyston.
Scores were level at quarter time, but the Cobras slammed home 7.5 to 2.1 in the second term in the defining period of the contest.
Youngster Luke Ryan continues to shine for the Cobras, while Jeremy Monckton will welcome Kooweerup’s wingers to the Cobradome this week in very impressive form.
Matt Howell was best for the Magpies.
And Inverloch-Kongwak took the foot off the gas as the Sea Eagles cruised to an 18.15.123 to 3.0.18 win over Garfield.
The Eagles kicked 8.5 and 6.1 in the first two quarters of footy before kicking just four goals after half time.
Running machine Corey Casey was at his electrifying best, booting four goals for the winners, while Tom Hams and Jenson Garnham chipped in with three each.
Zac Soutar was typically resilient for the Stars, who face Dalyston and Kilcunda-Bass over the final two weeks of their season.
WGFNC FIXTURE – ROUND 17
Tooradin-Dalmore v Nar Nar Goon, Bunyip v Phillip Island, Cora Lynn v Kooweerup, Garfield v Dalyston, Korumburra-Bena v Kilcunda-Bass, Warragul Industrials v Inverloch-Kongwak.