Border Mail Elimination Finals – Review
CULCAIRN could pay a huge price for its slogging 10 point elimination final victory over a gritty Billabong Crows with star forward Adam Prior nursing an ankle injury.
The league’s leading goalkicker had minimal impact after being well held by Crows coach Al Austin in the first term.
Prior limped to the quarter time huddle and had his ankle strapped.
He returned shortly afterwards but was clearly hampered and failed to kick a goal and remain stranded on 99 goals for the season.
Prior spent the last quarter on the bench and the Lions will be sweating on his availability for next week.
The Crows were also a man short in attack after clever goalsneak Josh Evans missed the clash with injury.
The merged identity was playing its first final since crossing from the Coreen league in 2008.
Despite their finals inexperience, the Crows were far from overawed by the occasion and the Lions were made to earn their 10.6 (66) to 8.8 (56) victory.
Lions coach Josh Hillary paid tribute to the Crows who showed plenty of spirit against their more fancied rivals.
“It was a lot more gritty than pretty but you take a finals win anyway you can get it,” Hillary said.
“It was obviously Billabong Crows first final and they had nothing to lose and certainly had a red-hot crack.
“It was a hard-fought victory, that’s for sure.
“I thought there was some outstanding individual efforts and Dane Hallinan really stood up when we needed him.
“Losing Adam was a blow but we get an extra day to recover and obviously he will be doing everything he can to be available on Sunday.”
The Lions got off to a promising start with Dane Hallinan, James Pitson and Tim Haines all in the thick of the action and helping them to a 13 point lead at the first break.
Goals were at a premium with Al Austin and Zach Kerr blanketing the Lions’ two main avenues to goal in Prior and Dennis Pedemont.
The Crows levelled the scores half-way through the second term with Bronson Schofield, Tim Austin and Michael O’Riordan lively.
Lions match-winner Jye Shields, who spent an extended time in attack with his thigh strapped, bobbed up with his second goal early in the last quarter to hand his side a 21 point buffer.
Nick Brockley kicked two last term goals
Brockley booted five for the match in an impressive display in a low-scoring arm wrestle.
Holbrook set up a clash with arch rivals Culcairn with a clinical 24-point victory over Rand-Walbundrie-Walla in the second elimination final at Walbundrie on Sunday.
The Brookers set up the win with the first five goals of the match kicking with the breeze and held off several challenges to emerge victorious.
The Giants kicked their opening goal at the nine minute mark of the second term through Jack Takle but were always playing catch-up football from that point.
Holbrook’s run caught out the home team with Corey McCarthy, Coby Ross, Jacob Way and Will Holmes providing plenty of drive.
The Giants were best served by ruckman Jack Duck and midfielder Ryan Lavery.
Outgoing coach Myles Aalbers, who kicked four goals in the clash for the Giants, said his team paid the price for a slow start.
“Full credit to Matt Sharp and Holbrook as they just started better than us,” Aalbers said.