Dalyston’s Hamish Dick tackles Kilcunda-Bass’ Bronson Interlandi in the semi-final clash at Cowes on Saturday. The Magpies’ tackling and pressure saw them overcome a 31 point deficit at half time to prevail by 11 points and book a spot in the grand final.
By Mitch Guy
DALYSTON has overcome a 31 point deficit at half time to pull off a stirring victory over premiership favourites Kilcunda-Bass to head straight to the 2014 Alberton Grand Final.
The match began on another perfect day for football at Cowes, with the intense rivalry between the neighbouring teams evident from the start with the emergency umpire in the action in the opening minute after a scuffle involving Kilcunda-Bass goal kicking machine Kael Bergles.
It was a hard contest early on with bodies flying everywhere and it was Kilcunda-Bass who settled first.
Bergles was set to kick the Panthers’ first goal of the afternoon before a free kick was paid to Jacob Dakin off the ball which resulted in the opening goal.
The Panthers were running hard forward as Dalyston struggled to deal with the intense pressure put on them.
The midfield battle was set to be a deciding factor in the match with Dalyston coach Paul Brosnan and James Ross against Kilcunda-Bass on-ballers Jess Attenborough and Ryan Fitzgerald, who were on top early.
The Magpies finally hit the scoreboard when Michael Kraska marked on the lead and kicked truly from 45m but it was quickly thwarted by Bergles who kicked his first of the day.
The Panthers looked the better team in the first quarter and extended their lead further when Wells took a strong pack mark, kicked his second goal and celebrated like he had won gold at the Olympics.
Silky work by Kraska in time on saw him gather the ball and swing around to handball to the running Kyle Kirk who ran into an open goal to bridge the gap at the quarter time break.
The second quarter began the same as the first with Kilcunda-Bass full of run and despite the best efforts of Dalyston defender Kainen Schrape, Bergles juggled a mark and slotted another goal from 40m with ease.
Further goals to Chris Endres and Wells saw them 33 points up by the six-minute mark and things were looking grim for Dalyston.
Endres in particular was winning plenty of footy across the midfield for the Panthers.
Kraska kept Dalyston in the game when he ran onto a loose ball and snagged a major from 50m before a great captain’s goal from Brosnan brought the Magpies closer still.
Bergles was in the action again when a spoil from Dalyston went over the back of the pack and the forward ran onto it, soccering the ball that managed to dribble through the goals.
This gave the Panthers a 31 point lead at the major break and they looked to be in control of proceedings.
The ‘premiership’ quarter began with a great deal of turnovers as Dalyston lifted their intensity and pressure on the ball carrier, led by Dean Wylie and Hamish Dick.
Magpie ruckman Kurt Thomas started to get on top which saw Dalyston win the clearances and the landscape of the match changed.
Kraska kicked his third goal which started a purple patch for the Magpies, with goals to Clay Tait and Chris Graham bringing them within reach.
The Kilcunda-Bass run that was so evident in the first half had been quelled and with Dalyston’s Brad Fisher a commanding presence at half forward, the crowd had a game on their hands.
A deft touch by Dalyston big man Scott Sibly from the boundary throw in found Paddy McKenna running full pelt and he kicked a great running goal to bring his side to within three points.
A slice of luck for the Panthers saw a ball fall over the back of the pack, which fell into the hands of Rory Gilliate who ran into an open goal.
But Dalyston was now on top and consecutive goals to Jackson Brooker saw them gain the lead.
The match was well and truly up for grabs and became heated as three quarter time approached, with little spot fires developing across the ground.
Dalyston coach Paul Brosnan encouraged his charges to take the game on at the final huddle.
“Be prepared to take the game on. It’s gonna take character, it’s gonna take courage,” he said.
And it was character and courage that the Magpies showed in a great finish to an epic contest.
Matt Rosendale roved a ball off the pack and kicked the ball out of mid-air to extend the lead in the opening minutes.
But good sides do not give up and Kilcunda-Bass were not done with yet.
After a string of handballs, Endres kicked a long running goal, before Dakin snapped another to cut the margin to three points.
This was followed by a long ball from Danny Wells which ruckman Ben Law marked in front of Fisher and converted from 35m directly in front to give the Panthers the lead.
The Panthers won the next centre clearance and worked the ball forward to Bergles who marked and snapped the goal to give them some breathing space.
But Dalyston had the answer, winning the next centre clearance and sending the ball forward where Rosendale was awarded a free kick for a push in the back and had no trouble converting the long range goal.
Minutes later Magpie Blake Carew stood up and took a big pack mark and kicked truly from 25m to regain the lead.
Rosendale completed his cameo performance when he snapped his third goal for the final term from the boundary throw in, with players hanging off him.
The Magpies now held a 12 point advantage and were on their way to the grand final.
Kilcunda-Bass continued to push hard for the win but could only manage behinds in their quest.
Two players for Dalyston stepped up when it counted.
Firstly, Kilcunda-Bass was streaming forward but Fisher dropped back as he had done all day and took an important mark in front of Bergles.
Moments later, a long Dalyston kick coming out of defence after the kick in saw Carew rise above the pack to take a spectacular and very important mark.
Dalyston will now have the luxury of the week off before playing off in the grand final.
Kilcunda-Bass must regroup as they face an in-form Phillip Island in the sudden death preliminary final at Inverloch this Saturday.