THE gap between third and sixth was evident in Saturday’s Alberton FNL First Elimination Final after Stony Creek comprehensively defeated Inverloch-Kongwak by 58 points at Alberton West.
Apart from breaking even in the second quarter, the Sea Eagles were overpowered throughout the contest as the Lions controlled play for much of the day.
The match started with both sides struggling to handle the finals pressure, with a number of turnovers and stoppages.
It wasn’t until the nine-minute mark that Lions midfielder Cam Stone broke the shackles to kick the first goal of the day on the run.
Stony Creek was simply winning the early contests and its backline stood up, led by Ash Zuidema.
Despite giving up 16cm to opponent Lucas McMillan, Zuidema wore the key forward like a glove and came out on top in early contests.
Andrew Logan was also a key player for the Lions, pushing back to help double team McMillan on multiple occasions.
Having held the upper hand in defence, the Lions were able to push forward and Luke Bowman slotted their second goal.
This was followed by Adam Myhal finding Dylan Zuidema open in the goal square to give his side an early buffer.
A slick pass from I-K’s Lewie Rankin found Brad Hender who finally gave the Sea-Eagles their first major of the day in time-on, but they trailed by 14 points at quarter time.
I-K hit the ground with greater purpose after the first break, with a running goal form Tom Wyatt edging them closer.
The Sea Eagles lifted their intensity and tackling pressure as they began to match the Lions.
But Cam Stone stamped his authority on the game with a dashing run through the middle taking a bounce, fending off a would-be tackler and sending the ball inside 50, where Dylan Zuidema recovered from the spoiled mark to snap a calming goal.
Stone carved up the opposition throughout the day and was arguably best on ground.
The match started to spark up with both sides attacking the contests harder, before a 50m penalty sent I-K’s Adam Cross to point blank range and he brought the Sea Eagles to within six points.
The ball continued to seesaw up and down the ground before the Sea Eagles’ best team play of the day cut the deficit to three points.
The ball started in the hands of Clinton McCaughan who sent a risky kick which Cross marked before handballing to the running Zane Javier who kicked into space inside 50.
Wyatt gathered the ball and handballed over the top to Josh Clottu who ran into an open goal from 25m as the Sea Eagles started to gather momentum.
But the Lions had all the answers with Wayne Stewart and Jacob Byrnes kicking late goals to extend the Lions’ lead to 15 points at half time.
A side’s success is usually measured by its bottom six and Stony Creek showed it had greater depth across the field on Saturday.
Their second half started with Julian Stone hitting Josh Schelling lace out on the chest and he slotted the goal from 40m, before Clint Mackie ran into an open goal to put the Lions on top.
Back to back goals from each forward pocket to the dangerous Zuidema saw Stony Creek take control.
Wyatt found space on his own to mark and convert deep into time on, but it was thwarted moments later when Schelling goaled on the siren to spell the end of I-K’s season.
The Lions ran out the match with a four goal to two final quarter to extend their lead further and propel them into the First Semi-Final.
Schelling was the dominant big man and was influential around the ground and up forward throughout the day,with Cam Stone and Luke Bowman providing class through the midfield.
It was the same familiar names that battled manfully for I-K on Saturday with the likes of Cross, Wyatt, Chris Terlich and Daniel Houston giving strong performances.
Dale Lawton and Clottu were also prominent for the Sea Eagles, but their season ended with the side relying on too few to get the job done.
Stony Creek will now face Fish Creek in the do-or-die first semi-final at Toora on Sunday.
Moments that mattered
No Stone unturned
THE Sea Eagles were kept busy chasing the no.7 Stony Creek jumper. Cam Stone was electrifying throughout the contest, popping up all over the ground. Together with ruckman Josh Schelling and fellow onballer Luke Bowman, who all played junior footy together, the trio led the Lions to victory.
Zuidema bros get the job done
STONY Creek’s Dylan Zuidema saved his best performance of the year until Saturday when he controlled the Lions’ forward 50. He looked dangerous whenever he touched the ball and finished as the leading goal scorer with four majors.
Up the other end, brother Ash made Lucas McMillan work for every possession and well and truly won the battle.
THE 3rd v 6th Elimination Final throws up one-sided contests at times and this was the case on Saturday. The 58-point win by Stony Creek followed a 97-point win by Tarwin in the Reserves, a 79-point win by Dalyston in the Under 18s and a 98-point win by Dalyston in the Under 15s.
Smaller crowd at Alberton West
A SMALLER finals crowd ventured to Alberton West with a gate of $7543 – down on last year’s First Elimination Final at Bass.
The lower attendance could be put down to a lesser mix of participating clubs and the location.
Coach’s Box with
Stony Creek coach Michael Dyer
IT WAS a great performance, especially our second half.
We shut them down and opened the game up and played it on our terms. We’re going to play the game very simply.
We’re starting to get a lot of options up forward now, our midfields have been very strong over the last four or five weeks and the great thing is we’re getting through games now with no injuries. We’re pretty much at full strength now – the couple of injuries we’ve got just won’t make it back so we’re as good as we’re going to be. A couple of guys were back this week from injury so they’re only going to get better each week.