By Mitch Guy
DALYSTON has drawn first blood in the fight for the 2015 Alberton FNL premiership with a gutsy 50-point win over Phillip Island in trying conditions at Korumburra.
The Magpies have earned a spot in the grand final and will enjoy the week off before facing the winner of Phillip Island and Fish Creek in this week’s preliminary final.
Conditions were very slippery but overall the ground was in exceptional condition for Saturday’s second semi-final, considering the heavy rain in the lead-up and consistent drizzle throughout the day.
Star midfielder James Taylor was missing from the Bulldogs’ line-up, but Dalyston was without prime mover Brad Fisher who is still suffering the effects of concussion from round 18.
The Magpies’ stocks took a further hit when ruckman Kurt Thomas was poked in the eye at the opening bounce and left the field for the remainder of the match.
With the wind blowing across the Korumburra Showgrounds and players struggling to keep their feet, a long shot for goal by Dalyston’s Chris Graham landed in the hands of Michael Kraska just inside play and he had no issue converting the banana kick from a tight angle for Dalyston’s first goal.
General play was quite even between the two sides but it was Dalyston who capitalised again at the nine-minute mark when Matt Rosendale ran onto a loose ball over the back of a pack and delivered to the top of the goal square where Kraska juggled the mark and kicked the Magpies’ second.
Superb vision from Alex Durand saw his pass inside 50 snatched up by Beau Runnalls on the lead to finally give the Island their first major of the day at the 20-minute mark, to bridge the gap nearing quarter time.
Dalyston were another man down after Bret Thornton was left in the hands of trainers following a collision.
He suffered concussion and did not return to the field, leaving the Magpies with only one player on the bench.
A courageous mark running with the flight by Daniel Belsten gave the Magpies the ascendency at the first break, when he duly converted from close range to push the lead out to 11 points.
Despite Dalyston’s interchange rotations being heavily hampered, it was the Magpies’ midfielders who stood up and took control of the contest.
Scott Sibly took over the ruck duties and had an enthralling battle with Island big man Dan Harders throughout the contest.
Although Harders was on top in the hit outs, Sibly’s influence around the ground was a key for the winning side.
Kristian Butler and Kainen Schrape were amongst the thick of the action and were willing to win the hard ball, feeding to Dalyston’s runners in Kyle Kirk and Glen Parker.
The Magpies’ ability to run and spread hurt the Bulldogs, with numerous inside 50s resulting in further goals to James Ross and Blake Carew.
The match was a scrappy arm wrestle and when Runnalls read the fall of the footy well, darted between opponents and snapped a beauty on his left foot, the Island began to find a pulse.
Josh Docherty was keeping the Bulldogs in the contest with strong work across half back, while Lachie Cleeland started to get his side’s running game going.
But down the other end, it was Tylah Osbaldeston who stepped up when it counted.
In a purple patch as half time approached, he won three critical contests in defence and thwarted the Island’s attacking forays to send the ball Dalyston’s way, as the Magpies held onto a 19-point advantage.
Phillip Island’s hopes of a comeback were dashed after half time when a 50m penalty was paid against the Bulldogs’ bench for umpire abuse, which sent Ross within range to extend the lead further.
When Glen Parker swooped on a loose ball and dribbled through another major, Dalyston’s stranglehold on the match tightened further.
With Kraska leaving the field with blood streaming from a gash above his eye, it was Parker’s turn again to weave his magic when he snapped a stunning goal to push the lead out to 38 points at the 10 minute mark.
Kraska returned to the field with his head heavily bandaged, as scoring between the two sides came to a standstill.
Dalyston’s Chris Samargis had the better of Runnalls in one on one contests across the day, regularly playing in front and rebounding from defence.
With an undeniable lead at three-quarter time and the lights on as darkness fell at Korumburra, Dalyston continued to control proceedings in the final term.
Despite being well held by Bulldog defender Rob Matthews at times, Kraska added another goal to his tally at the 11-minute mark.
Tensions boiled over as a minor melee erupted. Samargis showed initiative as the fight went on, moving the ball forward which eventually found Kirk who put the nail in the coffin with a snap from 15m.
Phillip Island simply couldn’t get the ball past half forward throughout the contest due to the pressure applied by Dalyston and will need to improve its game to beat Fish Creek in this week’s preliminary final at Tarwin to have another crack at the Magpies.
It was an inspiring win by Dalyston with two men down and puts them in prime position to win this year’s premiership.
With a few sore bodies the week off couldn’t come at a better time for the Magpies, who are seeking redemption after last year’s grand final loss to the Bulldogs.
Momments that mattered
DALYSTON already had to cover the loss of Brad Fisher and Paddy McKenna for the Second Semi-Final and their cause wasn’t helped when Kurt Thomas and Bret Thornton were out by quarter time.
Thornton was helped from the field by trainers after a collision that left him with concussion.
There was mixed opinions from spectators of the incident.
THE selection of the Korumburra Showgrounds for the Second Semi-Final was criticised by many people, but Korumburra-Bena FNC are to be congratulated on the quality of the surface on Saturday.
For years the ground has been renowned for its poor surface, but on Saturday it surprised many at the game.
Despite heavy rain on Thursday and Friday the ground held up considerably well, although a few cars had to be helped out after becoming bogged behind the goals.
The gate takings were $11,196.50 which was an impressive crowd considering the weather.
Livewire Parker seals win
DALYSTON’S Glen Parker has played a vital role as a goalkicking midfielder since joining the club this season and he was at his best on Saturday.
With the game still far from over in the third quarter, he swooped on a loose ball and dribbled through a goal to give the Magpies breathing space.
He followed up minutes later with another fine effort, roving the ruck contest and snapping a beauty to give Dalyston a 38-point buffer at the final change.
Big men lock horns
Dalyston’s Scott Sibly can usually be relied on to fill a gap or play a role for his side, and he stepped up on Saturday when needed.
With no.1 ruckman Kurt Thomas out of action, Sibly shouldered the ruck duties against Dan Harders and provided a strong contest.
The pair fought it out all day and both were named in their side’s best players.
Coach’s Box with Dalyston coach: Paul Brosnan
IT WAS hard work for both sides but we adapted pretty well and played accordingly to the conditions.
We were down a couple early but everyone dug in and it worked out ok.
It’s good to have the week off. Sometimes it’s not an advantage, but after a hard game like that it definitely helps.
Brad Fisher will come in, Paddy McKenna will be touch and go with a knee – those two will be the ins if it goes to plan.
We were pretty disappointed with the way it finished last year – you have bad days but we had a shocker.
I think everyone from day dot this year has been pretty focused on trying to right some wrongs.