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A bridge too far as Avenel knocked out of finals

Swans senior footballers brave against Murchison.

CHALPAT SONTI September 3, 2014 3:27am

Tyler Peacock looks for a teammate.


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It took 10 years for Avenel’s senior football side to qualify for finals again, but just five minutes for hopes of a second week in the big time to suffer a fatal blow.

That was when key defender Mick Dundon left the field injured against Murchison, and while Avenel still dominated the first quarter to take a three-goal lead into the first break against a side that hadn’t played for three weeks, the lack of depth was beginning to haunt the Swans.

When Don Stirling got knocked out not too long after, the Grasshoppers pounced in the elimination final at Violet Town, booting nine goals in the second term to be on track for another big win.

But Avenel hasn’t been fighting all season for nothing and, with Stirling returning to play out the game, made a good fist of the game after the long break.

Then, helped by the yellow-carding of Murchison’s Jake Rennie early in the final term, there was some hope of overhauling the seven-goal deficit before the reigning premiers sparked enough into life to win by 33 points.

All things considered, in what was sometimes a flat game for an elimination final, the Swans can’t be too unhappy after copping a pasting against the same side just a few weeks earlier.

And the stand-out, particularly in the first half, was yet again midfielder Michael Morgan. But when Stirling went off it caused a reshuffle, and a match-up the Swans needed was no longer there. At that stage Stirling had the better of Grasshoppers star Chris Cullinan but his absence saw the latter come into the game more. It also put more pressure on Morgan, who was assigned a heavy tag after half-time.

Swans player-coach Cameron Gillett, who along with the club is busy recruiting for next year, knows that depth is what he has to fill.

‘‘That’s the importance of having key mids in there,’’ he said.

‘‘Particularly against the good sides, that’s where they get all their drive.’’

Avenel’s second-quarter fade-out has also happened plenty of times this year.

‘‘We’ve started really well and blown good sides out of the water, but once they get a run on the boys start to panic a little bit,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘But I was happy with the boys at the end. At three-quarter-time I said that no matter what happened they had to keep fighting, and we finished off well and they walked off the ground with a bit of pride. At the end of the day it’s a big effort for the club and it’s a stepping stone for next year.

‘‘With another pre-season they’ll have that belief that they can match it with the best. I still think (Murchison) are the best side in the comp and when we kicked five goals to one in the first quarter, why can’t we keep doing that?’’

The Swans will probably start the pre-season later than 2014, with late-November pencilled in. With new recruits and the enthusiasm generated from this year, Gillett said he was hopeful of much better numbers for early training ‘‘knowing we can play finals footy’’.

Murchison1.6, 10.11, 13.17, 16.19 (115)

Avenel5.1, 7.1, 8.3, 13.4 (82)

GOALS, Avenel: C. Gillett 4, T. Heaysman 2, D. Stirling 2, M. Dundon, C. McCarthy, P. Arandt, N. Thomas, K. Duncan.

BEST, Avenel: M. Morgan, T. Heaysman, A. Green, A. Layton, K. Duncan, L. McKenzie.

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