Finley has seized its chances to topple Numurkah in Murray Football League's first semi-final.By Hannah Driscoll
The only statistic that matters at the end of the day is the one that goes on the scoreboard.
Numurkah gave Finley a good run for its money in yesterday’s Murray Football League first semi-final at Mercury Sports Complex and, especially early in the final quarter, looked like it would cause an upset.
But the Cats did what the Blues could not do in that last term to advance to the preliminary final against Mulwala — convert opportunities into goals.
Finley kicked 5.3 in the final quarter to come back from an 11-point three-quarter time deficit, while Numurkah squandered 1.6.
‘‘We were lucky there, but I suppose you’ve got to take your luck,’’ Finley coach Damian Sexton said.
‘‘We had passages of play in the last quarter where we nailed goals basically from blokes’ hard running and obviously wanting to win the hard footy.
‘‘If you want to go get it, you create your own history.’’
It was the third encounter between the teams for the season, Numurkah cutting a round two 82-point losing margin down to three goals in round 16.
The biggest margin yesterday was 21 points at the start of the second quarter when Finley’s Steve Irons slotted a set shot, but for most of the game the difference was not much more than a couple of goals.
‘‘Their centre clearances smashed us in the second and third quarters especially the second and their list was full of running,’’ Sexton said.
‘‘To our credit their last quarter they dug deep and produced a little bit like we know our group is good for and they produced it so that was the upside for us.’’
Michael Littlejohn cut the three-quarter time deficit back to a goal with the opening major of the fourth term, but Numurkah would dominate the majority of the play for the next chunk of the quarter.
Playing coach Brent Chapman missed several opportunities in the final quarter, including a howler where he ran into goal and missed.
Dylan Sidebottom was a great target for the Blues in Mark Brown’s absence due to a calf injury, but he also missed an opportunity from a free kick.
Chapman was shattered after the game.
‘‘It hurts. We probably deserve to win, but didn’t. I think we were on top everywhere bar the scoreboard,’’ Chapman said.
He hoped the group could take yesterday’s experience into the future.
‘‘The group’s shown a lot of fight throughout the whole year, really,’’ he said.
‘‘We lost a couple of guys early in the year with knee injuries and then (Justin) Murphy leaving.
‘‘To lose three players that were going to be in our top 15 players to come as far as we did, no-one probably expected us to get this far.
‘‘It was great and they never gave up and we experienced winning a final and now the pain of losing one which for a lot of them is their first time in finals.’’
Nick Robertson and Jeremy Congram (two goals) were standouts for the Cats and Sidebottom (four goals), Jack Miechel and young Jordan O’Dwyer worked consistently hard.
The Blues’ Aussie Jones grabs the Cats’ Ollie Ford as he handballs the football out of heavy traffic.
Numurkah’s Beau McKeown uses every inch of his frame to reel in the mark.
Finley’s Kamen Ogilvie targets a teammate with his kick.
Finley’s Dane Maxwell leaps over Sam Robertson and Beau McKeown.
Nurmurkah’s Matt Chapman takes a mark.
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