EYE OF THE TIGER: Yank coach Ryan Lewis was the match winner on Saturday in the one point win over Willunga and is ready to pounce on Willunga rover Brett Miegel.FOOTBALL: A close game was anticipated between Willunga and Yankalilla in the preliminary final at Strathalbyn, as there had been little between them all year, with just two points the difference in the last meeting.
It has been 16 years since the Tigers have won against the Demons in any game.
From the first bounce Groom was proving a nuisance to the Tigers, but the Tigers showed they were going to put relentless pressure on the Demons and that would be the secret to a Yank win.
Willunga started their campaign with two posters and Bond for Yank looked just as loose with the Tigers first assault. It was a frantic nervous start with six points opening the game.
The Yank defence were just banging the ball out of defence and finally two quick goals to
BorlaceandPFittockgave the Tigers some early ascendancy.
LohdetoFittock, pushed that out further with another great set shot goal by the forward.Warmingtonadded to the majors, and Yank were starting to shake those early inaccuracy blues. Glass kicked the only major for Willunga to be down 20 points at quarter time.
The umpires were absolutely hot on holding the ball and it thwarted attacks on occasions by both sides. Willunga came out fast and with intent, but Yank responded.
The Tiger defence was certainly under the pump early in the quarter, but they stood up and didn’t allow Willunga to score from the early thrusts.
Turning defence into attack style offootygave the Tigers the first goal of the quarter to Lewis for Yank. It was end-to-endfooty, both defences working hard and well, goals were at a minimum and hard to come by, until Willunga equalised the quarter with a snap goal from that man Groom.
An even andintriguing quarter offootywith little in it as the scoreboard showed.
Willunga had come back at the Tigers, but they stood firm and it was Willunga’s inaccuracy that kept the difference on the scoreboard.
A few more of Willunga’s ball getters in Baxter,Miegel, Brown andBurdettput their hands up in the quarter and they were trying to increase the momentum, but the Tigers defence were running the ball well and working in numbers, the Tigers needed some of theirmidfieldersto kick goals in the third, not leave it to Lewis andPFittock. The defence led byDurdin, Hughes and Plant were resolute for Yank and they led by 17 points at the long break.
There was no doubt Willunga were looking for an in back into the game and equally the Tigers needed to repeat their first half start.
The Tigers were putting the ball into their 50 constantly andPFittockmarked and goaled. Yankalilla came unstuck when Willunga broke the press andPortlockmade them pay.
The Tigers were not to be outdone and attacked, attacked and attacked, but the goals couldn’t come, as desperate defence by Willunga stopped an avalanche.
Alexopoulos, Young, Cox and Groom were fighting hard in the back half against a wall of Tigers.
It was a low scoring game, and one couldn’t help but think a couple of consecutive goals by Willunga could break the game open, they are that sort of side.James andBraendlerwere winning the wings andSidebottomandLohdewere winning the insidefooty.
At three quarter time Yankalilla looked to have control of the preliminary final leading by 26 points and heading for a grand final on their home ground.The scores were 7-11 to 3-9.
If there is side that could turn this game around, they were out there, Willunga needing five goals and down all day, had a belief they could run home.
It was obvious early in the last the Demons were going to go for broke and play direct andatackingfootball.
Steele,McGowan,Portlock, Baxter and Glass are all six in a row premiership heroes and they threw themselves at the ball along withMiegel, Groom and Brown and straight away a goal was on the board throughMcGowan.
The Tigers missed a couple of opportunities to keep the gap safe and Willunga with Steeleruckinghis heart out drove the ball forward for Garrett to goal.Willunga got the scent and Brown goaled and the match had tightened.
A side that had only kicked three goals all day suddenly kicked three in a row. It was all Willunga into attack and yet another goal reduced it to a one point game and the Demons had found belief and were charging home.
The Demons tall defence were standing up, and perhaps licking their lips, as Willunga took the lead with a goal from the rarely sightedStandfield.
Fists were being pumped and all the momentum was with Willunga and the Tiger supporters fell quiet.
However, like the great team they arethe Tigersdug deep, asLohdesplit the packs open and he andSidebottomgave their side the next two opportunities.
James missed with the first, but coach Lewis did all he could to inspire his side bygoaling.
It was inspirational stuff from the Tiger coach, as the Tigers were back in front.
Willunga continued to press forward, asPortlock, Steele, Glass,Miegeland Baxter had lifted their side in the last and were going to keep the pressure on.Willunga scored two late points, with any one of the shots kickable goals.
StandfieldtoHaskettin the dying stages saw a mistake and late shot for goal right on the siren went out of bounds when a point would have put the game go into extra time.
The Tigers took a well deserved win by the smallest ofmargins, one point.
Their defence led byDurdin,Fittock, Plant and Hughes stood up and worked hard all day and the Tigersmidfieldersled byLohde,Sidebottom, and Hunt were at their best, setting up a salivating contest next week against the Hawks.
The Demons gave their all with Steele lifting his side in the last and Glass played magnificently all day.The final score was Yankalilla 8.14 defeated Willunga 8.13.
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