MORE FINALS ACTION | To see the River Murray first semi final match reports and photo gallery from Sunday, September 9, click here.
IMPERIALS v MANNUM
A beautiful spring day greeted both players and spectators as the Blues and Roos took to the field in Mannum looking for direct qualification into the 2018 River Murray Football League grand final.
The Roos would be kicking towards the town end of the oval in the first quarter and they were the side to get the scoreboard ticking over first with a minor score to Callum Cook as the Blues struggled to clear the ball out their defensive lines.
Mannum’s Jack Woollard kicked the game’s first goal from around 50 metres out as the ball just drifted over the awaiting pack of players.
The Roos kept the momentum up with early attacking forays and when Gene Robinson benefited from a 25-metre free kick they had goals on the board in the blink of an eye.
The fast start for the Roos continued when Jack Woollard was in the thick of the action more than once when he kicked to Korey Lochiel and kept on running forward to receive the ball and was then rewarded for his attacking play with his second goal of the opening quarter in what had been end to end play by the Roos.
The Blues first score was a minor score only to Jacob Rance who took a fine intercept mark and had a shot on goal from 25 metres out .
The Roos’ flying start continued when Callum Cook bounced the ball and ran through the centre of the oval and found Korey Loechel in the goal square who duly finished off Cooks’ classy play.
The Blues then produced some classy running play setup by Sam Mobbs and Brayden Dalitz but a minor score was little reward for the effort .
Luke Harrowfield got the first goal for the Blues which they eagerly sought to stay in touch when he goaled from 45 metres out.
The Blues were now working into the game after a sluggish start and the contest had become a highly entertaining free flowing affair.
Johnny Boras kicked a miraculous goal from an impossible angle that saw him positioned tight on the boundary near the playground area.
The Blues kicked a goal after the quarter time siren when Brayden Dalitz was rewarded for his superb tackle and he made no mistake under immense pressure.
Despite the Roos kicking the opening four goals of the quarter the Blues rallied kicking the next three goals to trial 4.2 to 3.3 at quarter-time.
The first quarter was a perfect example of high class finals football despite the Roos getting the initial jump the Blues had slowly clawed their way back into contention .
The Blues attacked from the outset of the second quarter with Gareth Williams pinpointing a bullet like pass to a diving Johnny Boras who took a diving slips fielder mark.
Sadly for the Blues and Boras the kick went out on the full.
The Blues did most of the attacking in the opening five minutes of the second quarter but it was the Roos going against the initial run of play that goaled first when Zakk Bullard laced a pass out to Gene Robinson some 40 metres out and Robinson goaled.
Jamie Honner passed the ball to Shaun O’Brien who had literally seconds earlier came off the interchange, O’Brien then passed a quick ball to Scott McMahon who then continued the impressive build up into attack by finding a leading Johnny Boras.
Boras swung the ball with superb control left to right in a swirly breeze and the ball sailed over the goal umpires head .
The Blues then drove the ball forward with bullocking from the ball up and levelled the score when Brayden Dalitz remained composed under pressure and got the ball to his boot kicking a goal.
Louis DeMichele was rock solid in defence for the Blues and when Gareth Williams was rewarded for a high tackle and passed to Johnny Boras who duly goaled the Blues had turned a four-goal deficit in the first quarter into a seven-point lead halfway through the second quarter.
Will Crane was superb in his attack on the ball and combining with Johnny Boras then finding Brayden Dalitz , Dalitz had kicked his third goal of the opening half.
The Roos though remained calm in the Blues challenge and finished the quarter off kicking the next two goals off the boot of Korey Lochiel to give the Roos a one-point lead at the main break 7.5 to the Blues 7.4 .
The first half of the game had been played with determined fierce commitment from both sides that was worthy of the winner finding a direct path to the grand final.
The Roos wasted precious little time in the opening of the third quarter to get themselves onto the scoreboard and Zakk Bullard got the home side off to the start their parochial home crowd had hoped for as he evaded a couple of Blues defenders settled and goaled.
The game now was tightening up around the ground and the free flowing attractive football that had highlighted the first half was now becoming a struggle of strengths between two combatants unwilling to give each other time and space for clear or easy possession.
As the Blues defence was put under pressure it faltered and this allowed Gene Robinson to extend the Roos lead to 15 points with the Roos now having kicked the last four goals.
Things got worse for the Blues and they in the blink of an eye found themselves staring down a 27-point deficit with further goals to Leochel and Robinson .
It was up to Will Crane of the Blues to goal as the Blues reduced the margin to 21 points with their best passage of play for 20 minutes late into the third quarter.
The Blues had two goals in quick succession when Johnny Boras goaled from a free kick.
Just as the Roos had dominated the first half of the third quarter it was now the Blues time to control the game and they kicked the final two goals of the quarter firstly through playing coach Scott McMahon as he was alert to the situation as the ball was kicked across goal and with little fuss he goale .
Ryan Edwards kicked the second after the siren goal of the day for the Blues as he goaled from a free kick.
The quarter was played in two halves with the Roos dominating early before the Blues finished the quarter with the final four goals.
At the final break the Roos clung to a four-point advantage 11.8 to 11.4 .
The final quarter was all set to be an enthralling contest with both sides still in the contest up to their neck it would be a case of who wanted it the most and could finish the game off stronger .
Gene Robinson propelled the Roos off to the quick start they desired when he goaled within the opening minute of the final quarter to extend the Roos advantage to 10 points.
The Blues responded quickly through Luke Harrowfield who strongly marked a Brayden Martin pass.
The margin was now back under a goal .
The tempo of the game lifted and the Roos rose to the challenge led by their strong imposing forward of Korey Leochel who was able to out muscle his opponent and with strength control the incoming high balls he duly goaled to extend the Roos lead .
The physicality of the contest lifted from both sides as they became desperate to advance straight into the grand final and to the delight of the assembled Roos fans at the clubroom end of the oval Jack Woollard clunked a strong mark in the goal square and the Roos lead approached three goals .
The Roos kicked the next two goals as they looked to be finishing the afternoon stronger as Dustin Inglis got his name on the score sheet .
Johnny Boras gave the Blues fans some late hope when he kicked his fifth of the afternoon but unfortunately for the Blues the Roos had controlled the final quarter and time was now the enemy of the Blues players and supporters .
The final siren sounded and it was the Roos that had prevailed in a highly entertaining and fierce contest and they now had qualified for the grand final .
For the Blues players they have one more chance next week to qualify for the grand final and I believe the fierce contest against the Roos after a fortnight break will hold the Blues in a good position next week .
The Roos prevailed by 22 points, 16.10 to 13.6 .
JERVOIS v RAMBLERS
Jervois took on Ramblers in the second semi final on Saturday for a spot in the B grade grand final.
Ramblers got the first inside 50 of the game for no score.
Jervois had their chance next, getting the ball inside their 50 for no score either.
It was a scrappy start to the game, but Ramblers had the first shot at goal, it went out on the full however.
The Roosters again got the ball inside 50, but the Bluds were able to clear the ball after receiving a free kick.
The ball was pumped in again by the Roosters and Connor Baker scored the first goal of the game.
The Bluds then got the ball inside 50 after getting the centre clearance and a shot at goal to Craig Fidge went through for a behind.
Fidge then had another opportunity after the Bluds got the ball back from the Roosters kick in and this time he didn’t miss.
The score close to 10 minutes in was Jervois 1.1.7 to Ramblers 1.0.6.
Ramblers were next to score as Tristian Sumner took a mark 25 metres out and put the goal through to give them the lead back. Jervois put on one more goal to get the lead back and the score at quarter time was Jervois 2.2.14 to Ramblers 2.1.13.
Roosters had the first inside 50 of the second quarter, but a great mark to 37 for Jervois going back with the flight stopped their entry.
The Bluds were then able to launch an attack and got the ball inside 50, but a shot at goal didn’t make the distance and was punched through for a behind.
Ramblers were then able to have the next shot at goal, with a shot to Connor Baker going through for a behind.
The ball was up and down the ground until Ray Love put a goal through for the Bluds, to give them a 7 point lead about 10 minutes into the quarter.
Jay Williams got a free kick and 50 metre penalty, his kick at goal dropped short and onto the chest of Ray Love, who put his second goal through in a row.
Ramblers put on one more goal for the quarter to go in a goal behind at half time, 4.3.27 to 3.3.21.
The Bluds had the first several entries into the 50 for the third quarter, but could only manage a behind. Before getting the ball in again, where Scott Chandler gathered and put a great goal through from the boundry a long way out.
Another behind went through for the Bluds, before Chandler again had another opportunity, it was another behind to the Bluds however.
About 10 minutes into the quarter now and Jervois held a 15 point lead. The Bluds managed one more goal for the quarter, while Ramblers got two of their own to get the margin back to 9 points at three quarter time, 6.6.42 to 5.3.33
Jervois would be without Scott Chandler for the first 10 minutes of the last, after he was given a yellow card at three-quarter-time. Ramblers were able to take advantage and get the first goal to Matthew Brooks.
They then put on the next three behinds to draw level at 42 points each. It was about halfway through the quarter now an this game would go down to the wire. The Bluds had the next shot at goal and Ray Love hit the post, but it did give them the lead back by a single point.
The ball was in dispute until the Roosters had a shot at goal which drifted out of bounds and a quick snap from the pack put them back in front by five points, with not long to go. Ramblers held on to win after putting through another goal, winning by 10 points, 8.6.54 to 6.8.44 and they advance straight through to the grand final.
IMPERIALS V MYPOLONGA
Minor premiers Imperials squared off against Mypolonga in the second semi-final at Mannum on Saturday with the victor to go straight into the grand final.
The Tigers won the toss and kicked to the netball courts end which was favoured by a tricky 2-3 goal breeze.
It was however the Blues who did the early attacking with captain Lachlan Marsh who brought up the first score of the match with a point. The Blues midfielders in Catford and Dalitz were busy early, while defenders Farnham, and Schenscher repelled any Tiger forward forays.
Shane Paech was a focal point up forward however Imps could not capitalize on their numerous entries as Smelt and Stewart defended well for the Tigers.
Against the run of play Mypolonga were able to clear the Blues defensive set up and Riley Pearce goaled to post the first major of the match and soon after they had a second goal on the board when Gotch found Jordan Hein who snapped truly.
The Tigers went in at quarter-time nine points up. It was Imps turn with the breeze and they immediately pushed the ball forward with Rigney and Paech looking dangerous however once again they butchered their opportunities in front of goal.
The Blues had done all the attacking but good defensive pressure from Smelt, Murison and Lewis saw the Blues unable to convert. It wasn’t until the halfway mark of the quarter that Catford found Morrell who converted truly to put the Blues first major on the board as they hit the front by three points.
With their tails up the Blues again surged forward and with late goals to Paech and Catford they went into half-time 15 points up as the Tigers remained scoreless for the quarter.
It was Mypo’s turn with the breeze however it was the Blues who scored a priceless goal into it when Dalitz ran into an open goal after some great work by Marsh and Morrell. The Blues were now out to a 23-point lead and looking hungry to increase it.
To the Tigers credit they dug deep with Murison doing some good work around the ground while young Jordan Hein used the ball well but the Blues’ defence stood firm as Young and O’Loughlin thwarted any opportunities the Tiger forwards had.
Late in the quarter however the Tigers were rewarded when Mitch Walton dribbled through a clever goal to bring the margin back to 18 points at the last change.
It was going to be an uphill battle for the Tigers against the breeze and it was made more difficult when Ballard combined with Morrell who found the dangerous Rigney who goaled truly.
The Blues were up and about and continued to pepper the goals but only for some minor scores.
Smelt clawed one back for the Tigers after a clever goal from the boundary to bring the margin back to 21 points but that was as close as the Tigers would get.
Two quick goals to Smith and Laube put the game out of reach for the Tigers as Paech continued to provide a strong focal point up forward for the Blues. Another goal to Morrell and then a long goal from the boundary to Dalitz put the issue beyond doubt as the Blues ran out victors by 46 points.
RAMBLERS v TAILEM BEND
It was a much-anticipated game with Tailem Bend taking on Ramblers in the under 15 second semi final for the right to move straight into the grand fnal.
The game started with both teams hitting the ball hard with great pressure football.
Skills were scrappy but Kane Catford was gaining valuable early disposals sending Ramblers forward on several occasions to only be repelled by Tailem’s defence.
After good work through the centre corridor for Tailem, the ball was kicked to Jacob Wilson at half forward who centred the ball to Bryson Prosser resulting in Tailem’s first goal.
Tailem and Ramblers were having a tight tussel through the midfield with Catford and Fensom gaining valuable possessions for Ramblers driving the ball forward for it only be repelled by Lachlan Appledore and Callum Thomas for Tailem.
A Tailem error from the kickout resulted in Ramblers first goal to Kartinyeri.
The game was all even 1.1 to 1.1 at quarter time.
The second quarter started with the wind increasing in strength but favouring neither end.
Lachlan Thomas and Ned Hughes’ pressure was relentless for Tailem constantly sending the ball forward.
Ethan Patterson was a wall for Ramblers repelling the ball many times and getting on top of Tailem’s Forwards.
The game was turning into an arm wrestle with the ball moving end to end. Appledore was unpassable for Tailem in defence and Patterson was the same for Ramblers.
Dylan Carter for Ramblers scored a great goal when he roved his own ball off the pack and then snapping around his body truly.
A Tailem reply came almost immediately with Lachie Thomas receiving the ball from Hughes and then kicking into the pocket, and then following up to get the ball back.
He then did a lightning hand pass that set up Jordan Sumner for a great snap. Half time scores 2.1 Tailem to 2.2 Ramblers.
The third quarter started with Lachie Thomas and Hughes applying strong pressure on the Ramblers mids. Ramblers, Malakai Kartinyeri was working his way into the game with some strong run down the wing and Dylan Zadow was working tirelessly in the packs for Tailem.
After repeat entries Ramblers Oscar Merrett kicked truly and Jaree Morrison scored as well. Ramblers confidence was building but Tailem’s defence was relentless.
As time ticked away a series of posessions by Tailem resulted in Bryson Prosser taking a mark in the pocket.
As the siren went, Prosser sent the ball through for a goal with scores 3.1 Tailem to 4.3 Ramblers.
The last quarter started with an arm wrestle. It was tough, hard, contested football.
Tom Fensom was playing well for Ramblers providing constant drive out of the middle and Cooper Abbott and Adam Schubert in defence were playing desperate football.
As players from both teams tired in the warm conditions the game started to open up.
Goals started to flow for Ramblers. Carter, Ashton Harradine, Kartinyeri and Jarree Morrison all scored with no reply from Tailem taking the game out by 4 goals, 8.3 to 4.3.
Rambler players to play well included Fenton and Catford through the midfield, Kartinyeri for his run and carry, Ethan Paterson being unpassable in defence and Dylan Carter for his two goals.
Tailem Bend was represented well by Bryant Medallist Lachie Thomas for his run and carry and his brother Callum who played in defence.
Ned Hughes worked tirelessly all day and Lachlan Appledore in defence also played a fantastic game.
Congratulation to Ramblers who played a fantastic four quarter game but they will be wary of a rematch with Tailem in the Grand Final.