Waaia and Dookie United put it all on the line on Saturday and it was the Bombers who came out on top in a hard-fought battle.By Matthew Galea
There was a lot of heart on display at Waaia on Saturday.
Waaia and Dookie United put on the sort of gutsy display that makes the do-or-die nature of a preliminary final so exciting, but it was the Bombers who ran out 24-point winners.
Waaia coach Greg Meyland led by example, playing the majority of the game on one foot after feeling a break in his foot crack once again in the second quarter.
His role on the park seemed more about being out there with his teammates and providing a presence than anything else, but his willingness to put his body on the line paid ultimate dividends in the final quarter.
Taking a sliding mark on his chest, Meyland slid head first into the legs of the oncoming Angus Sinclair, but was able to kick the goal that put the Bombers into the most dominant lead of the day.
‘‘It meant a lot, because I had a good effect on the game early, but I was sore and struggling and it was nice to be part of a surge personally,’’ Meyland said.
‘‘For the team it was just nice to have another steadying goal which I wouldn’t say was the game sealer, but it probably put them to bed.’’
The crucial moments of the game were played out much earlier, according to Meyland, when his side was forced to respond to a strong Dookie surge in the third quarter.
Matt Maddison’s side responded magnificently to two early Waaia goals to put itself 17 points ahead courtesy of three Patrick McMullan goals, but Waaia’s response was equally as emphatic, establishing a one-point lead heading into three-quarter time.
‘‘When things got a bit rough and ugly we capitalised, I think they got sucked in to a bit of foul play, our last quarter was just relentless,’’ Meyland said.
‘‘Relentless’’ was the key word for Meyland, too, and it had to be, such was the performance of Maddison’s team.
Dookie rebounded off half-back well and used the full width of the ground to great effect, with Maddison leading by example.
Mathew Kitto and Brendan Wood were tireless on the ball, while McMullan chipped in with his usual five goals, but with injuries affecting Dookie’s ability to rotate, Maddison’s side just ran out of legs.
‘‘We had to work pretty hard in the first three quarters to be where we were,’’ Maddison said.
‘‘When you’re playing a running game you definitely need to rotate and we had three or four guys out that could have played and that hurt our rotation.
‘‘I never believed that we couldn’t win it, but when Meyland kicked that goal with only three minutes to go, it certainly disheartened us.’’
Samuel Richardson was incredible for the Bombers, wearing a lot of knocks for his side while proving clean and efficient with the footy, while Geoff Hopkins was, “fearless with an exclamation mark”, in Meyland’s words, at centre half-back.
Luke Cowan and Mark Meyland, who kicked four goals, impressed with their offensive pressure and ability in the air, but it was the spread of performances and the fighting will of his Waaia teammates that most impressed Greg Meyland.
‘‘That’s the difference, that willingness to know that the pain is there but just keep going,’’ Meyland said.
The win sets Waaia up for another showdown with Tungamah in next week’s grand final at Rennie.
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