FOSTER has dealt a huge blow to Inverloch-Kongwak’s premiership chances, prevailing in a thriller by one point at Foster to move into third position.
The loss saw the Sea Eagles plummet from second to fourth and they will now face Kilcunda-Bass in a sudden-death elimination final.
The much anticipated match started as expected with both sides having their fair share of the footy in cloudy but still conditions.
General play was even with stoppages aplenty, but when both sides got the footy out into the open space the ball moved freely.
Two late goals to the Sea Eagles saw the visitors hold a slight upper hand at quarter time with a 12-point lead, but the Tigers started to hit back in the second term.
The home side moved the ball swiftly to half forward, where Michael Cooke was demanding the footy with a strong presence.
A few missed opportunities before half time hurt the Tigers, who trailed by six points at the main break.
With a top two spot on the line, Inverloch-Kongwak lifted its intensity after half time and started to take control.
Tom Wyatt was up and about across half forward, taking a number of grabs and controlling traffic inside 50.
Despite 15 to 20 minutes of domination by the Sea Eagles, the Tigers held firm and kept themselves in the game.
A mark inside 50 by coach Nick Connellan saw the big man convert after the three-quarter time siren, to bring the Tigers within eight points at the final change.
The home side threw everything at the Sea Eagles and hit the lead with about eight minutes to go. But the visitors weren’t going down without a fight, and won the next centre clearance and goaled within 25 seconds to grab the lead again by five points.
In one of the matches of the season, the result went right down to the wire.
With about two minutes to go, Brent Bowden marked strongly 25m out on a slight angle and calmly slotted the goal to give the Tigers a one point lead.
The Tigers pushed numbers back for the final stages, with nine to 10 players in the defensive 50.
In a frantic finish, the siren sounded with the ball inside Inverloch-Kongwak’s 50, handing Foster the win and third spot on the ladder, while helping Dalyston secure second spot and the second chance.
The hero Bowden was his side’s best, taking a number of grabs up and down the wing throughout the contest.
Onballer Matt Clark was a major ball winner for the Tigers, while youngster Xavier Duursma made a welcome return from Gippsland Power duties, using his fitness to win disposals on the opposite wing.
For the Sea Eagles, Corey Casey and David Newman found plenty of the footy for their side.
Inverloch-Kongwak will have to do it the hard way now but should be confident of overcoming Kilcunda-Bass in the opening week of finals at Dalyston.
Foster will be looking to start its finals campaign on a good note when it faces Stony Creek at Tarwin.
Full coverage of the weekends football in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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