Benalla Panthers were defeated by Londrigan Bulls by 48 points on Saturday in the Ovens and King Football League thirds' grand final.By Monique Freer
Benalla Panthers’ season came to a disappointing end on Saturday when the Londrigan Bulls defeated them by 48 points in the grand final at WJ Findlay Oval.
Having produced a number of entertaining and close matches throughout the season, the game promised to be a strong contest between the two sides, however the Panthers were unable to overcome a slow start to the game.
‘‘It was disappointing that that was the display in a grand final,’’ thirds coach Daniel Preston said.
‘‘It was below standard, below par by a long way.’’
The Panthers managed just one goal in the first half, and were unable to restrict the Bulls’ forward entries.
Although they continued to push the ball inside 50, they were unable to convert on the scoreboard and trailed by 40 points at the main break.
Preston said he told ‘‘a few home truths’’ at half-time and still retained hope of a second-half comeback.
‘‘We’ve been able to peg back three (and) four-goal leads — but it was a big ask,’’ he said.
The Panthers focused on clean centre clearances, and giving their forwards clean possessions down the field. They began to win the centre clearances in the third quarter, however the Bulls’ dominance in the stoppages across the ground restricted the Panthers from capitalising on their hard work.
The Panthers’ seven-goal last half was not enough to reduce the deficit, with the Bulls again outscoring them and claiming the premiership.
Blake Newman played a strong game in the midfield, and won the ball out of the centre alongside Liam Jones and Jack Keogh.
Although under enormous pressure all day, Teague McMaster stood tall at full back, while Max Andreula battled hard and provided good contests.
Hayden Pownall was all heart, and battled hard across the ground in defensive and offensive roles.
The game was Preston’s last as thirds coach, however he will remain involved with the club and senior assistant coaching.
The Panthers will lose about half their list as many players become ineligible for the under 18 side, however Preston said the nucleus of the group would remain intact, and they would begin recruiting players shortly.
Londrigan Bulls 15.8 (98) d Benalla Panthers 8.2 (50)
Goals: L. Jones 2, J. Winzer 2, B. Hodson, M. Cook, S. Mack, B. Newman.
Best: T. Mcmaster, B. Newman, J. Keogh, L. Jones, M. Andreula, H. Pownall.
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Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
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