Division 1 - Preliminary Final Review
With Good Will Hunter
A devastating second-half onslaught has seen Mordialloc steamroll reigning Division 1 premier East Brighton in Sunday’s Preliminary Final in one of the most remarkable victories the SFNL has seen in many a year.
Played in warm and sunny conditions at Springvale Reserve, the Bloods overcame two first half send-offs and a daunting deficit to advance to the Division 1 Grand Final against all odds.
In the first minute of the second term East Brighton put through their seventh straight major to lead 50 to two and at that stage a 15-goal drubbing was on the cards.
If you had said at that moment that Mordialloc would eventually run out winners by 33 points, you would have been laughed out of the venue.
But what transpired from then on was one of the most spectacular comebacks - at any level - in recent memory, and certainly one of the all-time great SFNL performances.
Mordi booted 15 of the last 16 goals of the game, including an unanswered 9.0 in a final-term blitzkrieg that had East Brighton fans - and radio commentators – watching on in stunned silence, while sending the Bloods faithful on the outer into unbridled delirium.
The Vampires started the game like a house on fire, posting four goals in the first nine minutes - Jeremy Heys with two of them - to completely stun Mordialloc.
The Bloods simply couldn't get their hands on the footy in the midfield, with big Hamish Dahl putting on a clinic in the ruck and giving the East Brighton midfielders first use from the centre bounce.
However, they were let down by inaccuracy in front of the sticks, registering 6.8 for the term, and given their dominance all over the park, they should have led by more than the 42-point margin that stood at the first change.
It looked like getting ugly for the Bloods when Phil Smith drilled the opening goal of the second term to extend the margin to 48 points.
James Morris finally opened the account for Mordialloc soon after with two wonderful goals in as many minutes, and although they lifted their intensity and showed glimpses of classy ball movement, it did little to arrest East Brighton’s stranglehold on the match.
But halfway through the term it all went pear-shaped for the Bloods. As the Vampires went into lockdown, frustrations reached boiling point for Mordialloc. Andrew Fyans and Joel Waters were both yellow-carded and forced from the field within minutes of each other for separate indiscretions, handing East Brighton a two-man advantage and extra numbers at every contest.
Six goals down at the half, and with just 16 players on the field for much of the third term, Mordialloc dug deep and produced one of the gutsiest quarters of football of the year. They put the clamps on their tiring opponents, holding them goalless while booting three themselves into a slight breeze to get themselves back within 20 points and give themselves a chance of an unlikely comeback.
But what happened next would have been beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent Bloods supporter.
East Brighton had done their dash and looked to be running on empty in the warmth of the searing September sun, and Mordi took full advantage. They simply ran the older and bigger-bodied Vampires off their legs, dominating possession through the midfield and began eroding the deficit.
With every six-pointer, the Bloods faithful became even more boisterous, and when James Pennycuick snapped a tremendous goal – their fourth of the term – from 45 metres out at the 16-minute mark, the Bloods claimed the lead for the first time in the match. Cue pandemonium.
The final eight minutes saw an avalanche of goals at the Springvale Road end as the Bloods romped home convincingly, much to the chagrin of the shell-shocked Vampires.
Skipper Todd Bastion, Jake O’Donnell and Beau Turner were unstoppable in the Bloods’ second-half resurgence, winning a heap of possessions and all but monopolising the clearances.
Joel Waters owed his teammates after his sin-binning, and delivered in spades following his re-emergence. He delivered two goal assists to start the final term, among other telling touches.
Up forward Morris and Pennycuick finished with four majors each (Pennycuick’s all came in the final term), while Sam Anstey’s two classy long-range goals both came at critical junctures.
Josh Jewell also did a tremendous job nullifying East Brighton’s dangerous spearhead Smith, who could only manage one goal. Admittedly, the Big Show had very limited opportunities to impact the scoreboard.
Dahl, Ben Douthie, Barry Hope and Peter Larson were handy early for the Vampires but their contributions were diminished after the long break.
Damien Rayson, however, fought hard to the final siren and was outstanding in the clinches. Despite his team’s loss, he remained one of the most influential players on the ground. Unfortunately, he lacked support when the game was in the balance.
East Brighton now must lick their wounds and reload for next year, while for the victorious Mordialloc it’s onwards to a date with Dingley in the Big Dance.
Division 2 - Preliminary Final Review
With Jason Barbin
The Southern Football Netball League Division 2 finals have been nothing short of spectacular and the Preliminary Final between Murrumbeena and Caulfield more than lived up to expectations.
Murrumbeena has overcome a 12-point half time deficit to defeat Caulfield 10.13 (73) to 9.11 (65) and secure its spot in the 2015 Grand Final. Mitch Walder produced a remarkable second half performance in a best on ground effort that also included three goals, while Jake Buggy did his best to try and get the Bears over the line.
Caulfield got off to the best possible start with five opening-quarter goals as Murrumbeena struggled to have an impact on the game, despite kicking the first goal of the match.
The Bears looked too strong and the run through the midfield from the likes of Buggy and Ash Cooper had their opponents on the backfoot while ruckman Adam Ballard was able to get his hands on the ball first in the ruck.
Murrumbeena showed slight improvement in the second term but inaccuracy hurt it, reeling off five behinds to trail Caulfield by two goals at the main break.
Again the Beena got the first goal of the quarter but were unable to capitalise on the momentum they had gained while the Bears seemingly went from strength to strength and an upset was on the cards.
Matters got worse for Murrumbeena when Walder left dazed after a contest, coming off the ground due to not knowing which ground he was playing at.
That didn’t seem to stop him in the second half as his teammates rallied behind him to step up and put the pressure back on their opponents.
Walder levelled the scores midway through the third quarter with his first goal before Chris Dove bagged his second major to give the Bears the lead going into the final break.
Although Caulfield had the lead, Murrumbeena was playing a better brand of football and looked capable of over-running the Bears as they struggled to make their way through Murrumbeena’s now famous defensive press.
Jason Twirdy gave the Bears some breathing space early in the fourth quarter with his first goal before Murrumbeena fought back as Mitch Walder stood tall, taking two strong contested marks, inside 50 and duly converting to put his side in front with little time remaining.
With the game on the line both sides fought tooth and nail to drive the ball forward but it would be the Beena who succeeded and Sam Parkes kicked the sealer to give Murrumbeena the eight-point win and a spot in the Grand Final.