FOSTER were one-point winners against Stony Creek in an incredible preliminary final at Tarwin Lower on Saturday featuring two gun full forwards who put on a show.
Kael Bergles looked like he was going to kick Stony Creek into next week’s grand final with eight goals by three quarter time.
But Foster’s Tom McGowan kicked seven – his last goal put his team in front and the Tigers will now meet Fish Creek this Saturday.
It was a brilliant game to watch. Traditionalists would have loved it.
Players in their positions, lots of one on ones, crisp skills and big bumps.
The match was played in bright sunshine, no wind and the Tarwin ground was in as good a nick as you’d see at any level.
Foster had won two of the three previous meetings between the teams this year and started quickly with the first four goals of the match.
But Stony, through Bergles, kicked the next four and were only a couple of points down at the first break.
The Bergles show continued in the second quarter as Stony Creek moved ahead.
In the middle section of the game, Stony’s midfield was right on top led by Brad Hutchinson and Cam McKenzie.
Ruckman Dylan Zuidema was tireless and Jackson Nolan was a livewire across half forward.
Stony’s nine point half time lead was extended almost immediately after the break when Bergles took a tumbling mark running back with the flight of the ball deep in the forward pocket, then nailed the banana.
McGowan replied with a beautiful long set shot, before Bergles kicked his seventh and eight goals to push the margin out to 20 points.
Foster’s Brad Rooney, who was a force in the mid-field all day, snapped a clever goal to keep his side in it.
Another gem from McGowan brought Foster right back into it.
Some heavy bumps raised the tension out on the ground until a brawl broke out in front of the social rooms.
Stony’s Julian Zahra was sent off and Foster emerged playing the better footy.
Shaun Chaseling snapped a goal to bring the margin back to just three points.
At the last break, Stony’s lead was just one point, and while the Lions had been deadly accurate in the first three quarters, they struggled to convert in the last.
When Bergles missed a chance early, Foster took the ball straight up the other end where Peter Coelli goaled from the boundary.
McGowan kicked his sixth to finish some superb team play and could have had his seventh a minute later when he marked on the lead but his shot was wide.
Against the run of play Stony fought back. Jacob Byrnes found himself unmarked at the top of the square when a hurried kick came in.
His goal reduced the margin to two points.
Stony was working overtime to keep the ball in the forward line. A great tackle from defender Andrew Logan was rewarded. He was a long way out, but the ball was in good hands.
The Stony fans directly behind his shot erupted as soon as it left his boot as it put their team in front with not long to go.
Out of the centre though, Foster won the clearance and the ball went long go where McGowan and Logan were one out. McGowan held position with one arm and plucked the mark with the other 30 metres out directly in front.
He shot went straight through the middle and put Foster up by a point.
Stony wasn’t done yet though. McKenzie took a strong mark and played on quickly, heading in the direction of Bergles.
But under heavy pressure, his hurried snap went out on the full, prompting a roar from the Tiger fans.
The siren sounded seconds later, ending a memorable match, and Stony Creek’s season after two heartbreaking finals losses.
Foster wins thrilling shootout