THE elimination final between Inverloch-Kongwak and Kilcunda-Bass at Dalyston last Sunday erupted in sensational circumstances only minutes from the half time break when big Ben Law was sent from the ground with a red card.
Moments earlier he was involved in an altercation with IK teenager Corey Casey, allegedly punching him several times in the head before a big melee of players joined in.
Reportedly he was retaliating after a previous incident but it was Law and Killy-Bass who felt the wrath of the authorities.
The fight was cleared and umpire Scott Hillis produced a red card from his back pocket to eject Law with still half of the match to go.
Unable to return to the field, after being one of the most influential players on the ground to that point, Law could also not be replaced by another player for 20 minutes.
In retrospect, it was the end of the Panthers’ finals campaign and their 2016 season.
Thus penalised Killy-Bass was under the pump from the resumption, down to 17 men and no big man in the ruck.
Riley Scapin had taken over opposed to Brad Hender and they immediately looked less potent at the stoppages.
Hender opened the scoring quickly after half time with a goal and IK was constantly into attack for the remainder of the quarter.
Bergles was well up the field, stuck on 95 goals for the season, and with no opportunities coming his way.
IK’s Toby Mahoney led out strongly to mark and when his long shot sailed through it was clear the pressure had gone out of the game and IK were on their way.
Hender to Soumilas to McQualter and they were out of the centre with ease again and Tom Wyatt took a shot from the angle. It was a point but there was a steady stream of opportunities coming forward for IK.
Burgess, Endres and the KB defenders were doing their best and at one stage Killy-Bass got the ball forward to where Bergles took a snap but Dylan Clark, Craig O’Reilly, wrapped up like a mummy, Cam McKenzie and Rowan Clark defended it comfortably.
Dale Crawford was still having a good game in defence for KB and the class of Fitzgerald, Endres and Wells was holding IK up momentarily and they even got the ball forward again to where Bergles took another shot. But IK was untroubled in defence and they were next to score through Daniel Reid.
Lewis Rankin was getting plenty of it through the middle and he released Hetherington on a fast run forward that ended in the goal of the day.
A busy Toby Mahoney marked strongly near goal for another and all of a sudden the lead was out to almost seven goals and IK was doing it easy.
The Sea Eagles were without big Lucas McMillan for the day, who would have been useful early when they needed a target up forward, but after the Law incident, the game opened up and IK moved the ball forward at will.
Rankin was combining regularly with Lomax and the play was in the IK scoring zone for most of the quarter.
Some heroic efforts by the likes of Kallon Rigby, Fitzgerald and Endres kept the scoring down but the game was effectively all over by the time Killy-Bass had 18 players back on the ground again.
IK continued on in that vein in the last quarter, kicking 5.6 to 2.1 to run out 64 point winners but the crowd had the right to feel cheated after what had been a tight, tense first two quarters.
In fact, for all the angst about IK missing out on second spot, they certainly didn’t look like a grand final prospect in the first half as they fiddled around with the ball, failed to go direct and lacked the confidence to take the shot when in scoring range.
But you’re only as good as the opposition allows you to be and Killy-Bass certainly came to play.
Uncharacteristically, goal-kicking sensation Kael Bergles had missed some very getable shots early but the two teams had only managed a few goals each by half time in a tight, defensive affair; IK 3.8 and KB 2.5.
All the big name Killy-Bass players were firing, with the possible exception of Bergles, and they were taking it up to the more highly fancied IK.
What would have happened without the Law incident is anyone’s guess but it’s safe to say, IK would not have had it all their own way.
Final scores: IK 13.17.95 def Killy-Bass 4.7.31.
Moments that mattered
Missed out on 100
Kilcunda-Bass’ Kael Bergles started the day at Dalyston on Sunday with 94 goals for the season and you had to think he needed to get to 100 if the Panthers were to win but it just wasn’t his day. He was scragged by Aiden Cuff without the ball first up for no free kick and when he marked at point-blank range and missed; it wasn’t going to plan. But the wheels really fell off after the Ben Law incident and Bergles was left stranded on 96 goals.
The turning point
No prizes for guessing the turning point in the match between IK and Killy-Bass on Sunday with the contest dying as soon as KB big man Ben Law was red carded for allegedly striking Corey Casey late in the second quarter. Law had been KB’s best player to that point. Incidentally he was yellow carded for allegedly striking Craig O’Reilly of IK back in
May this year.
West Gippy for us
Any idea that Kilcunda-Bass might rethink its decision to go with the flow and join the new West Gippsland league next year was scotched by club president Ash Carlson after Sunday’s disappointing loss by the seniors. “Definitely. We’re looking forward to it. We’re hopeful of getting some players back and being fully competitive. The netballers are on the improve and with a bit of recruiting there, we’ll be set up well there too.
Wind towers territory
If you went to both days of football and netball, at Tarwin and Dalyston last Saturday and Sunday, you wouldn’t need to question the decision to put wind farms in both locations with the wind at Tarwin especially savage on spectators, and the standard of play, on the ground and court affected at times.
Full coverage from the first week of the Alberton Football League finals in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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