This week Yarrawonga’s senior side took on the Wangaratta Magpies at WJ Finlay oval in the 1st semi-final.
Wangaratta 6.2 12.4 15.5 19.12 126
Yarrawonga 3.5 5.6 8.10 11.12 78
Goals – Yarrawonga: B. O’Connor 3, J. Koopman 2, B. Symes 2, B. Schofield, B. Pritchard, J. Urquhart, R. Bruce.Wangaratta: M. Newton 6, M. Hedin 4, J. Cleeland 2, M. Jensen 2, B. Melville 2, M. Kelly, D. Boyle, J. Richards.
Best – Yarrawonga: N. Lawless, L. Howe, X. Leslie, T. Hargreaves, R. Bruce, B. Pritchard. Wangaratta: B. Melville, M. Newton, J. Richards, J. Cleeland, J. Anderson, B. Douthie.
With the season over for the loser, both sides had a lot to play for.
The Pigeons got off to a flyer when Bronson Schofield in his 100th senior game slotted the first for the afternoon within the opening minute of the game.
Brad O’Connor followed shortly after to give his side a handy lead.
It was however short lived.
The Magpies hit their straps and kicked the next six goals straight to take complete control of the game.
Yarrawonga’s backline was under siege, but the damage could have been worse if not for the efforts of Nick Lawless, James Elliot, Travis Hargreaves and Jake Wild.
Jordan Urquhart made the most of a free kick and fifty-meter penalty late in the first to keep the Pigeons in the hunt but still 15 points down.
Wangaratta started the better in the second before Jess Koopman pulled off a great intercept mark to kick his first and then Brandon Symes dragged in mark of the day to kick his first.
The Magpies again lifted their game and the Pigeons unfortunately had no answer. The Wangaratta Magpies had now opened up a 40-point lead at the half time break.
The Pigeons came out after the break with several positional changes and with more intensity. The move of Brady Pritchard to the forward line paid immediate dividends when he hit up Brad O’Connor to kick the first of the second half before he kicked one of his own only a minute later. Yarrawonga’s midfield were making the most of Lach Howe’s dominance and their hard work resulted in O’Connor kicking his third.
Continuing the trend in the game, the Magpies hit back again and the deficit drifted out to 37 points at the final break.
With nothing to lose the Pigeons threw everything at the Magpies.
Jess Koopman was at his elusive best when he kicked his second goal in the first minute of the last quarter and Brandon Symes marked strongly to take his tally to two as well.
Nick Lawless was inspirational and veteran Xavier Leslie was doing his best to keep his side in the game when a questionable yellow card saw Tyler Bonat forced to the bench.
Despite being a player short, the Pigeons never gave up.
Travis Hargreaves and Ryan Bruce fought hard at every contest but unfortunately it was not enough to see the Pigeons get up.
The Wangaratta Magpies going through to the preliminary final with a 48-point win over Yarrawonga’s Pigeons.
Whilst disappointed with the result, the Senior side have had a great year.
They have had a number of debutantes and given several young players the opportunity to experience a full season at O&M senior level.
All of the younger group of players have been well supported by the experienced players within the team and the Pigeons look forward a successful 2019 season under coach Damien Sexton.
Yarrawonga 10.9 69 def Albury 8.7 55
Yarrawonga Reserves fought back from a 10-point deficit at ¾ time, to run out victors by 14 points and book themselves a place in the Grand Final.
With the game in the balance, senior players Marcus McMillan, Ross Mulquiney, Matthew Grinter and Xavier Kennedy demonstrated their leadership and experience and took control of the game.
Albury jumped out of the blocks and showed their intent from the first bounce.
There were one on one match ups all over the ground with an old-fashioned Albury versus Yarrawonga slog ensuing in the first quarter.
Goals were traded and Yarrawonga took a 1 point lead into the first break.
Yarrawonga kicked into gear in the second quarter and were taking control of the game.
This control did not translate into goals for the team though.
When Albury gained control, they hit their goals and opened up an eleven point lead.
Half-time saw a few changes made with the hope of trying to find a different avenue to goal.
A few players were asked to lift in order for the Yarrawonga team to cut the deficit back.
Mitch Collins-Bye came into the middle of the ground and took control at the stoppages and in the air.
Marcus Hargreaves and Corben Wiles continued their bullocking game style and Zac Smith and Jayden Gallagher added polish with their ball use.
Yarrawonga managed to kick 5 goals to 1 in the last quarter with big man Damon Symes starting to find some room up forward.
The team now look forward to their next match, the Grand Final on Sunday, September 23 at Norm Minns Oval in Wangarratta.
Goal Kickers: D. Symes 3, M. Lonergan 2, M. McMillan 2, M. Grinter, X. Kennedy, J. Nicholson.
Best Players: R. Mulquiney, C. Wiles, M. Collins Bye, M. Hargreaves, J. Gallagher, Z. Smith.
Yarrawonga 13.9 87 def Wang Rovers 7.11 53
In a second semi-final against ladder leader Wangaratta Rovers the developing Pigeons entered North Albury’s oval with their strongest line up for the year.
Almost before the first bounce Austin Frauenfelder was moved from attack to the key defence post where his strength and calmness under pressure was outstanding all day.
This left Jack Brooks as the deep key forward for most of the day and Jack duly capitalised on the role slotting through six majors in a best on ground display (quite the day to play your best game of football for club to date).
The main midfield group of Byrne, McMillan, Woodburn, Sexton and Mullins whilst down on possession were fantastic.
Their ability to maintain control of the stoppage and the middle of the field was match winning. At times the quality Rovers outfit look to move the ball with pace and utilise the corridor, but it was this quartet that minimised such forays keeping the game their terms.
As is often the case in finals, discipline was vital.
A lapse in discipline resulted in a player being sent from the field and after initially weathering the storm from being one down the Rovers eventually started to leak goals due to the extra number and repeated Pigeon attacks.
The Pigeons kicked 6.1 to 1.3 in the 3rd taking in a 23-point lead to the last change.
From there the Pigeons were able to continue to play with dare and use the middle of the ground running out winners by 34 points.
The Pigeons now await the winner of the Preliminary Final between Albury and the Rovers.
Both those squads are strong and Pigeons will need every single bit of assistance from a travelling “Pigeon Army” to wrestle the Cup back to the JC Lowe Oval on Sunday week.
Goal Kickers: J. Brooks 6, S. Mickelson 2, T. Lawrence 2, J. Sexton 2, N. Pendergast.
Best Players: K. Sharp, H. Meade, A. Byrne, A. Frauenfelder, J. Sexton, J. Brooks.