FISH Creek eased some of the finals heartbreak from last season on Saturday after defeating Yarram by 11 points in the first elimination final at Korumburra. The Kangaroos led from the six minute mark of the first quarter and were never headed by the Demons in a low scoring stoush in difficult conditions. After winning their last eight matches of the home and away season, the more fancied Demons’ first finals campaign in a number of years is now over as quickly as it began.
Fish Creek adapted to the conditions better, with Yarram’s persistence in playing precise football their undoing as the Kangaroos were happy to just push the ball inside 50. Fish Creek claimed the win without the services of Cal Park who lasted only a matter of minutes before coming from the ground with a flare up of his groin injury – leaving the Kangas with 20 men. Yarram started the better of the two sides in the first quarter with Corbin Sutherland marking and kicking truly inside the first minute. It would be his only major of the day with Lachie Pratt doing a great shutdown role from then on. After the Demons’ initial surge, Fish Creek then levelled the scores through Chad Macri. Kicking with a wind advantage towards the town end, the Kangas extended the lead with good passages of play and goals through Jason Rouda and Jake Staley.
Macri had the run-with role on Demon coach Griffin Underwood but was finding plenty of the ball himself along with Jordan Shaw and Ethan Park who was playing in his first senior final. Both sides had moments early in the second quarter but failed to capitalise with wayward kicking in front of goal. Yarram players were then left with hands on heads after Jarryd Swift tried to rush through a behind 30 metres from Fishy’s goal, only to pick out Jason Rouda in the goal square to gift him his second major of the day. Ethan Park was outstanding for the Kangas and led the way for the older Fish Creek players such as Travis Manne and Steve Blencowe. The Demons however fought back, but again couldn’t buy a goal until Brent Lynch was taken to the goal square from an undisciplined 50 metre penalty to close the margin to 10 points at the main break. A stalemate greeted spectators early in the third term as both sides tried to assert superiority.
A holding free kick to Ryan Underwood broke the deadlock with the 2007 premiership coach making no mistake to close the margin to within a kick. But an immediate Fish Creek reply through Macri, who was everywhere, again stretched the margin to double figures. The game then seemed to open up approaching the last change, with Griffin Underwood getting on the end of the best passage of the day’s play to kick a great running goal to give his side confidence. But like they did before, the Kangaroos were able to hit back immediately with Greg Hoskin roving a pack beautifully to kick a goal from point blank range. Lachie Park impressed with some vital touches as Trent Price kicked another for Fish Creek right on the three quarter time siren to put his side 17 points up.
Passion filled speeches from the respective coaches fired up their charges, but Fish Creek were able to counter Yarram’s best attempts to score. Griffin Underwood did everything in his power to lead his side to victory with support from brother Ryan, Trek Davis and Mickey Pettitt, but from not many others. Steve Blencowe was outstanding in the back half as was Travis Manne, both finding form at exactly the right time to help lead the Kanagroos to victory. A second Ryan Underwood goal made the contest interesting with over 10 minutes still to play, but Fishy were able to defend to keep their season alive for another week at least.