Stunning final quarter sees Lakers advance into next round of KDFL finals.CHALPAT SONTI September 5, 2013 4:58am
Matt Waterson is highest and about to pull in a great mark as Nagambie runs over the top of Violet Town in the final quarter.
If ever a side showed the benefits of keeping faith in a game plan, it was Nagambie’s senior footballers on Sunday.
Up against defending premier Violet Town in an elimination final at Merrigum, the Lakers looked headed for an early exit midway through the third quarter. Nagambie was trailing by about five goals, as much a victim of its own inaccuracy in front of goals and especially in general play as anything the Towners did.
Violet Town was deadly accurate and made the most of its chances. But the side has shown a dislike in the past couple of seasons for the contested game, beating sides with its superior run and spread.
Nagambie persisted with the contested style and it started to pay off. The Towners’ lead was whittled back little by little but the mistakes and lapses in concentration weren’t eliminated, leaving the Lakers staring at a 16-point deficit going into the last break.
Coach Linc Sullivan urged his charges to respect every goal they kicked. Too often to that point, Violet Town was able to rebound easily after conceding a major to return it with interest — and the Lakers’ goals were much harder to come by.
And then it turned. Nagambie didn’t do much different but crucially eliminated the errors, and the result was as good a quarter of football as you could hope to see. The momentum made the Lakers unstoppable, and the Towners were mere spectators as the underdogs kicked seven unanswered goals and eight for the term in all to run out 28-point victors.
Brett Connors kicked three of those goals, including the one that put Nagambie in front about 10 minutes in. But it was the one after that which showed this was going to be Nagambie’s day. The Lakers looked to have messed up a golden opportunity inside 50 when Connors put boot to ball on the boundary in the right-side pocket, falling over as he did so. The kick sailed through and deflated Violet Town as much as anything else.
While Violet Town had just one of its AFL trio — Chris Tarrant, who proved a big handful for the Nagambie defence — it had plenty of backup but they were well held by the Lakers.
And credit, as it does where any game is defined by the contests, should go to Nagambie’s onballers and ruckmen, who not only won the ball, but used it. And when they used it well, the Lakers were unstoppable.
Onballers Tyrone Muir, Josh Comi (who had a good battle with Pat Horsburgh) and Mick Shiels were to the fore, but special mention should go to ruckman Adam Bourke, who not only held his own with Rob Osborne but went forward in the latter stages of each quarter and proved a handful there. Understudy Mickey Bradbury was then able to come into the ruck and more than match his opposition.
Danny Haysom rotated between onball and the forward line and again did both jobs well, Ben Hutton was a similar threat and the backline stood up well. Jack Williams had the unenviable job on Tarrant but worked to make him accountable, while Sam Collins, Tyson Bush, who played on the wing as well, full back Jackson Hutton and Mitch Sanderson and Brent Le Cerf off half back could all reflect on a job well done. Up front Matt Waterson kept the hard work going, as he does every week.
Sullivan put the win down to sticking with what works for the side — and four words players and supporters have heard a lot of this year.
‘‘We kept to our structures and our hard work paid dividends,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s those things we measure — chases, tackles, shepherds and blocks — that we kept doing.’’
Denying Violet Town ‘‘rebound’’ goals also helped the flow of the game go Nagambie’s way.
‘‘They’re a momentum side who play in patches and their patches are real good. You’ve got to get that momentum back in your favour and slow them up from that rushed footy.
‘‘When they back off a bit you can get yourself into it. Once we got our tails up we did the same to them with our workrate and they couldn’t slow our momentum.’’
Unsurprisingly Sullivan rated the final term Nagambie’s best quarter of the year, and for a reason he’s worked at all season.
‘‘Mentally we stayed strong right through and stuck to the things we needed to.’’
The only injury from the game was to wingman Ben Kelso, who injured an ankle late in the game, but the Lakers have three players banging on the selection door as well. Phil Cubbin, Kosta Snedden and Mitch Winter-Irving were all unlucky to miss out on the Violet Town game but will be considered for Sunday’s elimination semi-final against Stanhope.
That task won’t be made any easier as Nagambie has to face the Lions on their home turf. The Lakers trounced Stanhope last time they met at the venue but Sullivan is aware this is a different Lions side, bolstered by Bendigo VFL players Steve Stroobants and Tom Hams.
‘‘I watched them (thump Lancaster by 83 points in Saturday’s elimination final) and they’re a good side. The game was over after about five minutes and they’ve got good runners all over the ground.
‘‘I would expect nothing less than a real tight physical contest on their big ground.’’
Unlike the Violet Town game this will be a clash of similar styles. But Nagambie now has the confidence it can only get from a strong win against a good side.
‘‘I reckon it’s a good thing for the side to know you can come from behind and win games from 30-odd points down. Our boys never doubted themselves (against Violet Town) and they know as long as you stay strong with each other you’ll be right.’’
Nagambie3.2, 5.9, 9.13, 17.17 (119)
Violet Town5.1, 8.4, 13.5, 14.7 (91)
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