A goal to Bailey Brown in the final minute helped South Morang claim a five-point over Laurimar in one of the best finals ever played in Northern Football Netball League Division 3 football.
Brown calmly slotted the winning goal from 30m out directly in front to restore the lead for the Lions, who held on for a 13.11 (89) to 12.12 (84) win in the first semi final at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Brown kicked the winning goal after a 50m penalty for encroaching over the mark brought him within range. He played in the midfield and excelled all day. His role down back was filled by Liam Failla, who had not played since Round 9.
Seventeen-year-old Sam Indian, fresh from a junior final the week prior, kicked six goals for the winners – with his marking being a feature. He also kicked two set shot goals from severe angles.
The lead changed at each quarter break. Despite the breeze to the northern end of the ground being only slight, 18 goals were kicked to that end compared to a mere seven at the Yea Road end.
“We live to fight another day,” South Morang coach Gary Hall said after his side booked a preliminary final date with Panton Hill.
Tye Hall did well through the midfield and took an absolute hanger in the third term. Cory Giannone got plenty of the ball and his disposal plus decision making under pressure was a highlight.
James Mellerick was the best of the defenders and his kicking skills help set up many attacks for the Lions. James Hewson was busy through the midfield and kicked a clutch goal late in the second term from on the boundary.
The Laurimar players showed no signs of nerves to begin their first final. Their tackling and pressure applied was outstanding early and helped them hold their opponents goalless in the first term – while kicking two themselves.
Josh Williamson was an ever-present danger up forward for the Power and booted four goals. Had his radar been on, he could have had a few more.
Jackson Lewis was solid down back, while Mitchell Thompson was tough and tenacious as always – winning frees with strong tackles and he finished up with two majors.
Luke Wilson did well in the midfield and was a spark behind the third term Power surge – in which they booted four unanswered goals to take the lead at the last change.
Laurimar’s play of the day went to 17-year-old Jake Richards. Working in tight confines near the forward 50 on the boundary, he beat two opponents, executed a give and get handball, got himself into clear space and had the composure to hit Jacson Cecil wide open 20m out.
Cecil’s resultant goal put Laurimar within a kick late in the contest. They hit the front minutes later. The Lions turned the ball over from a kick-out and a Joe the goose handball saw Dallas King run in for the easiest of goals.
Alas, for Power fans, South Morang was to have the last say and move to the preliminary final.
“Really proud of the group,” Laurimar coach Justin Sherman said. “There is definitely a lot of upside.”
The Redbacks await South Morang in the preliminary final at the Whittlesea Showgrounds on Saturday – with the winner gaining the right to challenge St Mary’s for the 2018 premiership.
Final score: South Morang 13.11 (89) def Laurimar 12.12 (84)