Sea Eagles defeat Cora Lynn in super semi

Inverloch-Kongwak’s Dylan Clark was head and shoulders above the rest on Saturday in his team’s thrilling six-point win in the second semi-final against Cora Lynn. N143617

Inverloch-Kongwak’s Corey Casey gets a quick handball away. N303617

Oscar Toussaint attempts to trap Cora Lynn’s Nathan Gillis near the boundary. N313617

INVERLOCH-Kongwak is the first team through to the West Gippsland senior footy grand final after an epic second semi-final win against Cora Lynn at Nar Nar Goon on Saturday.
The blustery conditions didn’t detract from this match as a contest, it only made it more intriguing, as it was anyone’s guess whether the Sea Eagles’ 10 point lead going into the last quarter was enough, given the Cobras would be coming home with the wind.
Scores were level 17 minutes into the last term but Inverloch-Kongwak obviously heeded coach Ben Soumilas’ three quarter time message to stick with the plan and not be distracted by the score, the breeze or the situation.
They rallied with two goals including a ripper from Andy Soumilas from the boundary line before the Cobras kicked again, only for the siren to sound with the Sea Eagles up by six points.
The wide expanses of the Nar Nar Goon ground proved tricky with the strong breeze that blew towards the forward pocket – the end to which Inverloch-Kongwak kicked in the first term.
Every minute that went by without a goal to the Sea Eagles was considered a win for the Cobras.
While the Sea Eagles had more of the play, they couldn’t convert. The misses added up quickly to seven points, and while none of them were sodas, it was actually Cora Lynn who kicked the first goal after a strong grab from Ryan Gillis 15 metres out.
It was then IK’s Dylan Clark took the game by the scruff.
Sick of seeing his team blast the ball forward, he decided to run with it. Linking with teammates, he used handball and series of short passes that ended with Tom Hams for the Sea Eagles’ first goal.
It seemed to break the game open. Toby Mahoney ran into space and an open goal for another, before Hams kicked his second from long range.
All of Inverloch’s moves forward started at half back, as Cora Lynn were winning the centre clearances.
Young Oscar Toussaint kicked a beauty on the run after another series of handballs to give Inverloch a 26 point lead at the first change.
That was extended early in the second when Josh Clottu tumbled the ball through from 40 metres – a crafty tactic kicking into the strong breeze.
The Sea Eagles’ run was causing all sorts of issues for the Cobras who also struggled to work out how best to kick with the breeze.
Ruckman Michael Eales was handy dropping back into defence for the Sea Eaglkes who also switched Tom Batholomew into defence onto the dangerous Ryan Gillis for the term.
It was an entertaining battle with most of Cora Lynn’s attacking moves sent in his direction.
Travis Woodfield kicked one for Cora Lynn after sneaking free, but IK responded with a goal to Mahoney thanks to some excellent offensive pressure.
Nathan Langley started a run of goals for Cora Lynn after laying a good tackle on Clark. He let him know about it too, but when Dale Lawton came in to help out his mate, Langley was given a 50m penalty to but him directly in front.
Goals to the excitable Gillis and another to Woodfield closed the gap further.
The Cobras missed some easy shots before Nathan Gillis kicked a nice goal to reduce the margin to just three points at the main break.
Barthjomew was sent back to the forward line in the third term as the Sea Eagles kicked with the win and he goaled immediately.
Briggs responded for Cora Lynn before little Lachie Peluso put Cora Lynn in front with a clever goal off the ground.
Clint McCaughan was on the end of some nice roving and pass from Hams to restore Inverloch’s lead.
The Sea Eagles started to get back on top. Will Hetherington used his smooth skills to set up scoring opportunities but there were too many misses – Bartholomew the main offender – even though the wind was easing.
Santo Joma had the job on Ryan Gillis who seemed to be battling a nasty leg injury one minute, but was back up and about the next.
Goals to Mahoney for IK and Langley for Cora Lynn set the scene for a big final term.
Tom Wyatt put IK 10 points up 10 minutes into the quarter before Gillis, clearly struggling now, made a great tackle but couldn’t make the distance from 40 metre wind assisted.
He still set up two goals to Heath Briggs with clever short passes to level the scores.
Clark, who’d been superb all day for the Sea Eagles, was moved into the ruck and has an impact immediately.
Lewie marked in the middle and received a 50m penalty. He gave a cheeky handball to Hams goaled from 45m before the Soumilas trick shot from the boundary all but sealed the deal.
It was a great match. The Sea Eagles appeared to get through unscathed. There’s pressure for spots. Xavier Hughes was close to selection.
Coach Ben Soumilas was pleased to get the grand final berth stitched up a week early so the players could enjoy the win before knuckling down to prepare to face either Cora Lynn again or Phillip Island in the grand final.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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