Border Mail Semi Finals – Review
BROCK-BURRUM charged into its fifth grand final in seven years after a hard-fought 16 point victory over Osborne in the second semi-final at Walbundrie.
Little separated the two heavyweights in the first half with the Saints clinging to a six point lead at the main break.
The defending premier was able to keep the Tigers at bay in the second-half and grind out a workman-like 9.12 (66) to 7.8 (50) victory.
The Saints boast a lethal grand final record, winning all four deciders they have contested in the past six years.
Premiership coach Kade Stevens said the Saints’ fierce pressure was the cornerstone of the slogging win.
“I think we laid somewhere in the vicinity of 80 tackles,” Stevens said.
“We pride ourselves on our pressure and it hasn’t been at a level we expect over the past month.
“It was tough conditions and didn’t suit either side who have free-flowing game styles.
“It was a real slog and the skill level wasn’t the best in the windy conditions.”
The Tigers suffered a huge blow with trump card George Alexander forced to miss after suffering a knock to the kidneys in the final round.
Dynamic duo Matt Seiter and Nico Sedgwick were the driving force behind the Saints taking the direct route into the decider.
Seiter dominated the hit-outs with Sedgwick dining out on the man mountain’s ruck work.
Sedgwick was keen for a big performance after Tiger tagger Izaac McDonnell was able to dim his influence in their most recent encounter last month.
The Azzi medallist was able to break the shackles of McDonnell and rack-up 30 plus possessions.
Seiter narrowly shaded Sedgwick for best on ground honours.
Willson Mack, Jeremy Luff, Josh Koschitzke and Tyson Neander were also strong four-quarter performers.
Koschitzke spent time on Tiger coach Matt Rava and was able to restrict his usual influence.
Connor Galvin was dangerous in attack for the Tigers and booted three goals in the second quarter and four for the match.
Galvin, Duncan McMaster and Will Ryan were the Tigers best but lacked support.
The Saints emerged unscathed on the injury front and will now take a power of beating in the decider.
“Our form has been patchy over the past month,” Stevens said.
“But the biggest difference today was our pressure on the ball carrier which was first rate
“I thought it was an even team performance but the contribution from Seiter and Sedgwick was outstanding.”
CULCAIRN coach Josh Hillary believes his team still has another gear after coming from behind to defeat Holbrook by 26 points in the minor semi-final at Urana Road Oval on Sunday.
Star midfielders Dane Hallinan and Jye Shields led the late onslaught.
Hallinan was named best afield for the second weekend in a row after kicking three classy goals while Shields was moved to centre half-forward late and torched the Brooker defence.
Adam Prior brought up his 100th goal for the season at the 24-minute-mark of the opening quarter but could only manage one more after being restricted by an ankle injury and Brock Knights.
Hillary once again lauded Culcairn’s fighting spirit.
“It was a tremendous showing of grit and determination,” he said.
“Like last week, we needed to dig deep.
‘We knew Holbrook was going to be tough as they had taken some big scalps under ‘Sharpy’ (Matt Sharp) and the rivalry always adds a little extra spice as well.
“I think our best is yet to come though.
“We haven’t put it all together yet and hopefully that comes next weekend.”
Holbrook’s run and carry worried Culcairn at different stages during the match with Hillary admitting the Brookers would have been even more formidable on the big Walbundrie ground.
Josh Jones, Will Holmes and Sam Harris were strong in the clinches while Luke Carman read the ball well in defence.
Big forward Andrew Dess looked like ripping the game apart early kicking three goals before Tim Haines regained his composure and finished the match strongly.
Speedster Corey McCarthy suffered an injury and his influence was missed by Holbrook as the match progressed.
Hillary said his experienced players led the late charge.
“Dane Hallinan is in incredible touch, Jye was great and our back six was good again,” he said.
“Leading into three quarter time we couldn’t capitalise and we were on the ropes but the boys responded really well.”
Holbrook lost few admirers for its performances this season with the Brookers winning one final against Rand-Walbundrie-Walla and only losing to Culcairn in the final 15 minutes.
The Lions made it a fine double by defeating Billabong Crows in the reserves, Holbrook defeated Jindera in the thirds and Brock-Burrum edged out Howlong in the fourths.