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Division 1 – Preliminary Final Review
With Good Will Hunter
Bentleigh 13.13 (91) def Oakleigh District 8.6 (54)
Bentleigh will meet Dingley in the 2016 Division 1 Senior Grand Final after a comprehensive 37-point victory over Oakleigh District at Springvale Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
This was a game that was expected to be a tough battle that would go down to the wire, and the early indictors were that this would be the case.
Diminutive speedster Khaled Kandakji got the Oaks off to the perfect start with a clever roving goal inside the first minute of the game, but it would be the only real highlight of a pulsating first term.
There was plenty of thrust and parry between the two teams as they traded goals, and finished with two each by the end of the tight opening stanza.
Bentleigh then gained the ascendancy in the second term with their ferocious pressure around the footy, which allowed them to dominate around the contests. They pumped the ball inside 50 with increasing regularity and capitalised with four quick goals inside the first 10 minutes to shoot out to a 25-point advantage.
James Robertson kick-started the rout with the first two goals of the quarter, including an absolute gem from hard on the boundary which prompted Oak’s coach Shayne Sheedy to move defender Simon Black on to the mercurial forward, replacing captain Brody Hodic.
It mattered little as, Robertson would add another later in the term to end the half with four to his name.
As Bentleigh surged further ahead, frustrations got the better of Oakleigh and things quickly unravelled. A number of free kicks and 50 metre penalties gifted the Demons easy possessions, and even a goal to Ben Morrison from a free conceded 80m off the ball midway through the second term.
When Jake Mullen was red carded just before half time things were looking decidedly bleak for the Districts. Dan Kiellerup nailed a goal late in the term to snap a streak of six consecutive Bentleigh majors, but they nevertheless entered the main break a player down and 26 points in arrears.
Oakleigh needed a fast start in the second half to get back into the contest. But with only 17 men it was always going to be a challenge.
Bentleigh capitalised on the District’s disadvantage, booting the first three goals of the term through the agency of Morrison and captain Scott Lawry to extend the lead beyond seven goals and all but put the game beyond the reach of Oakleigh.
The Districts, who sorely missed the class of injured star Paul Fermanis, simply couldn’t find avenues to goal, and looked to be penetrating forward 50 with hope, rather than purpose. For the likes of Scott Mortimer, Ryan Murphy and Spencer Daly it was easy pickings as they rebounded the footy out of defence with interest.
Facing a 48-point deficit at the start of the final term, there was little for Oakleigh to do other than add some respectability to what had been a very disappointing performance. And they got precisely the start they were hoping for, with majors to Hodic and Andrew Howison in quick succession, bringing the margin back to six goals.
The Districts finally got on top in the midfield and won plenty of the ball, something they hadn’t been able to do for the previous hour, but were again hamstrung by their ill-discipline and lack of a direction going forward.
For Bentleigh, however, it appeared as though they had put the cue back in the rack. With a Grand Final berth secured, the final quarter became all about self-preservation after what had been a bruising and physically taxing encounter.
But just as it looked like the Demons would be held goalless for the final term, up bobbed Robertson again. He booted his sixth goal after the final siren from deep in the forward pocket, before saluting the Bentleigh faithful in front of the grandstand.
Robertson was the star of the show with six goals, while Morrison also finished with three. Sam McGarry was also influential, and perhaps deserved a better return than the 1.3 he finished with.
But the midfield was where it was won for the Demons, particularly in the second quarter. Ruckman Andrew Walsh was again a dominant force all afternoon, and clearly won the battle against the returning Brent Crawly. Daly, Lawry and Kayne O’Brien all won plenty of the ball and were simply unstoppable all over the ground.
Todd McLean and Barama Blow were tasked with curbing the influence of Oakleigh’s key playmakers Mullen and Ryan Pearson respectively and completely shut both out of the game.
Down back, Mortimer did an outstanding job nullifying the dangerous Kandakji, who was largely unsighted save for the opening goal of the game, and Murphy was a beneficiary of some ordinary Oakleigh ball use.
For the Oaks, however, it was again the usual suspects that led the way.
The backline was under siege for the first three quarters, but Pat Carroll never stopped trying, winning a stack of possessions and creating opportunities for teammates further afield. Black and Hodic also did their best to give their side a lift, with the latter moved forward in the last quarter.
Aaron Henneman was a commanding presence around the ground, but ultimately too much was left to too few.
It was a disappointing end to what has been a stellar season from the boys from Princes Highway, their first in the SFNL’s top flight, while Bentleigh now shifts its focus to its first ever SFNL Division 1 Grand Final this Sunday.
Listen back to the SFNL Radio Team's call of the Division 1 Preliminary Final in the player below.
Division 2 – Preliminary Final Review
With Jason Barbin
Two teams entered the Southern Football Netball League Division 2 Preliminary Final on Saturday and only one left with a spot in the Grand Final against Port Melbourne after one of the most thrilling finishes of the season.
Chelsea Heights 8.17 (65) def by Caulfield 9.12 (66)
A litany of mistakes late in the game has proved costly as Chelsea Heights fell to Caulfield by just one point in a thrilling Preliminary Final.
Star defender Dale Hynes rushed through the deciding point 90 seconds before the final siren after the Heighters led by 12 points at the final change.
Forward Phil Smith, who bagged three goals for the day, had a chance to win the game inside the final seconds after working his way to the advantage in a marking contest just outside the goal square, but dropped the resulting mark.
Joel Williams was there for the crumb but his snap was rushed and went in the opposite direction, leading to a clearing kick from the Bears to win the game.
With key forward Nick Gilbert held goalless, it was Kyle Manard who stood up inside 50 to boot three goals while Jack Price, Sean Gunning and Jason Twirdy were named best on ground.
Smith finished as the leading goal scorer for the Heighters while Jessie Odell and Hynes were named in the best.
The Bears enjoyed a strong start to the game, booting four goals to two in the first quarter to lead by eight points at the break before extending their advantage to 15 points in the second quarter after piling on another three goals.
Chelsea Heights enjoyed much of the possession of the ball in the third term but was unable to make a huge impact on the scoreboard, booting 4.9, a figure which proved costly come the end of the game.
Caulfield also had its fair share of time inside 50s during the term but could only manage six behinds as it went into the final change trailing by 12 points.
The Bears found their goal kicking boots again in the final term and put two balls through the big sticks to draw level with the Heighters, who again failed to capitalise in front of goal, finishing with three behinds for the quarter.
In the end it was a match that could’ve gone either way and while Chelsea Heights missed their chances to steal victory, Caulfield are deserved winners and will go on to face Port Melbourne in the Grand Final at Jack Barker Oval on Saturday.
Watch the final two minutes of the thrilling Division 2 Preliminary Final in the player below. Video courtesy of the Caulfield Football Netball Club.
Under 19 – Preliminary Final Review
With Alex Charles
With Hampton patiently waiting for their Grand Final opponent, Springvale Reserve played host to St Kilda City and Oakleigh District. In an incredibly even season the expectation was for a very close final.
Prior to the game you couldn’t pick a winner as both sides possessed match winners at either end of the field. From St Kilda’s Mykelti Lefau, Jackson O’Hehir-Vargas and Josiah Laakulu to Oakleigh’s Liam McCabe, Jackson Trieu and Brody Ledder. These players were expected to have a huge impact on the game.
As reigning champions, the Saints were always going to have a slight mental edge having had the necessary experience and you could see this at the first bounce. While you don’t always need to have had experience to win one, it really did show as the Saints took an early 26-point lead into half time.
Oakleigh brought the intensity we’ve seen all season to the third quarter but the energy expenditure definitely took its toll. Both sides managed 4 goals during the term but Oakleigh were unable to reduce the margin. A massive last quarter from the Saints was not surprising given the situation of the game as they ultimately won by 64 points.
Oakleigh were hardly disgraced, reaching a prelim in their second season is a fantastic achievement, and given this experience it’s hard to see them not returning to finals football in 2017. St Kilda will now get the chance to play Hampton in a rematch of 2015.