Border Mail Round 18 – Review

But late season losses to Holbrook, Osborne and RWW Giants threatened to derail their top-two aspirations.

The Saints started the round in third spot.

They needed to beat Howlong by roughly two goals more than Culcairn against Lockhart to regain a spot inside the top-two.

Although Culcairn were favourites to finish top-two, the Saints made an emphatic statement on the eve of the finals.

The defending premiers crushed the Spiders 22.15 (147) to 8.4 (52).

Brock-Burrum will now meet flag favourites Osborne in the second semi-final.

Premiership coach Kade Stevens said it was crucial to rebound strongly after losing three of its previous four matches.

“It was pleasing to string together four-quarters of consistent football,” Stevens said.

“We had been playing well in patches for the past month but lapses during matches had proved costly.”

Stevens said internally, the Saints didn’t talk much about regaining their spot inside the top-two.

The focus instead was on returning to form and the ladder would take care of itself.

“History says finishing top-two is a massive advantage during the finals series,” he said.

“On form, considering we had lost three of our past four matches, I think most people would have had Culcairn as favourites to finish top-two.

“But we will enjoy the week off and need to freshen up not only physically but as well as mentally.”

The Saints made a statement at the selection table in the lead-up and dropped premiership defender Josh McCudden due to poor form.

Rutherglen recruit Tyson Neander was the Saints best with six goals.

The classy Neander looms as the Saints trump card in attack during the finals series.

Jarod and Mitch Koschitzke alongside Azzi medallist Nico Sedgwick were also damaging.

Culcairn would be bitterly disappointed to let a golden opportunity slip to finish with the double chance.

It now faces Billabong Crows in a cut-throat elimination final at Walbundrie on Saturday.

Adam Prior fell agonisingly short of reaching 100 goals.

The burly forward was wayward early and kicked five points to the main break.

He booted five goals in the last quarter to finish with eight and be stranded on 99.

Cupido, who had been well held by Crow coach Al Austin, kicked truly from 35-metres following a pass from Kim Kantilla.

“We haven’t had much luck all season and it took until after the final siren in the last round to have some,” Price lamented.

“I asked the boys for a big effort at three-quarter-time when we were 25 points down and they were able to lift which was good.

“We set ourselves a goal to win three of our last four games and we were able to do that but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to sneak into the top-six.”

Sam Terlich was dangerous in attack with four goals while Daniel Smith and Jono Male also played well.

Crow speedster Josh Evans kicked four goals in his return from injury.