THEY don’t give out places in a senior football grand final for free and on Saturday, Inverloch-Kongwak had to prove they were worthy, all the way to the line against the determined, experienced opponent in Dalyston.
Trailing by just 14 points at the last change, it was certainly game on at Bass on Saturday and everyone knew that the first goal of the last quarter was going to be crucial.
IK’s Craig O’Reilly won a free kick after the bounce of the ball and Daly’s Chris Graham had to pull in a strong mark to stop their progress. But IK kept coming through Dylan Clark, Tom Wyatt (finally off the chain after Fisher was moved forward) and Will Hetherington for a point.
Daly couldn’t seem to clear the scoring zone however and, in a crucial passage of play, Dylan Clark narrowly got his handpass off before being wrapped up and the ball was transferred forward by Hetherington and Wyatt to Andy Soumilas for a big goal.
Even at that stage, in a low scoring game, it was going to be hard for Dalyston to get over the top of a 22 point lead. But there was no let up from them all the same.
Logan West defended IK’s next attacking move and courtesy of a 50 metre penalty for some mix-up, Matt Rosendale got the answering goal to make the difference 16 points.
Fisher and Thornton were both hovering up forward, as Dalyston rolled the dice with their key marking options, but it left them exposed in defence, and unable to rely on Fisher’s rebounding qualities.
Lewie Rankin on Fisher, big Brad Hender on Thornton and Rowan Clark on Rosendale were interesting match-ups but they were working for the Sea Eagles with Wyatt really having an impact after a quiet first half.
Corey Casey was playing a great game on the ball, quick and courageous, and Dalyston really had no answer.
He combined with McQualter, O’Reilly and Wyatt to hit-up a leading Lucas McMillan for another goal and they seemed to have the answers each time.
Soon after, they established a winning lead when Dylan Clark received a 50 metre penalty and kicked long to Corey Casey who kicked it off the carpet for another goal.
Dalyston’s Michael Marotta attacked the loose ball and with Brad Fisher got the ball back into their scoring zone where Ray-Angarane intercepted the kick-in and combined with Dean Wylie for a much-needed goal.
The light was flickering for Dalyston at 21 points down and they went forward again through Tait and Graham but a top tackle by Daniel Reid held them up. A free kick was then paid to Brad Fisher, held without the ball, and the lead was trimmed still further… there was still time for a Magpies fight-back.
However it was a full 12 minutes before either side could kick a goal, not that IK in particular didn’t have chances to wrap it up and when Fisher finally marked a pass from Matt Rosendale at the 25 minute mark, time had run out.
A late goal by Daniel Houston moments before the siren was icing on the cake of a tough, hard encounter, controlled it must be said by IK in the run to the line.
Moments that mattered
Youíve got to hand it to Dalyston coach Paul Brosnan. As disappointed as he was to lose Saturdayís preliminary final, he was the first into the IK rooms after the initial adulation had died down, acknowledging their effort through the year and wishing the club well on Saturday.
Defender Campbell McKenzie set the standard for IKís win on Saturday, not only with a four-quarter effort and by takingíem on with some dashing runs out of defence but especially with several courageous acts in the third quarter, enabling his team to protect its lead going into the last term.
Itís a game of centimetres in close finals and with the first goal of the last quarter super crucial on Saturday, youíd have to say the split-second effort by Dylan Clark to get his handball away to Will Hetherington just before being wrapped up in a tackle was huge. Tom Wyatt got it next, passed to Andy Soumilas and the resulting goal gave IK a 21-point lead.
Where would Dalyston have been in the first half on Saturday without the input of former Carlton team mates Brad Fisher and Brett Thornton? Fisher was especially damaging in the first quarter and Thornton had kicked four out of Dalyís five goals to half time, on one leg, still feeling the effects of a hamstring injury.
Full coverage of the weekends football plus the Alberton Grand Final preview in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times. To subscribe to our digital edition: https://sgst.com.au/ezine-publication/