Storm marks superb start to finals series
STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm marked a superb start to another finals campaign when it took on Golden Square in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior football qualifying final on Saturday.
Although beaten by the Bulldogs quite comfortably in the home and away series, including just seven days before in the final round, it was Storm which made a brilliant start to the latest showdown.
Strathfieldsaye surged to a 33-point lead by quarter-time as it scored six goals to nil in a brilliant start.
Caleb Ernst was first to goal in the sixth minute before Baxter Slater brought up consecutive goals for an 18-2 lead in the 18th minute.
Two of the best players in Storm’s history, Kallen Geary and Lachlan Sharp combined through the centre and across half-forward to set up a goal for Lachlan Gill.
Relentless pressure would be a hallmark of the day the Darryl Wilson and Shannon Geary-coached Storm.
A series of fumbles and missed handpasses in Square’s defence ended in another snapshot for Slater’s third goal of the contest.
Storm won the next centre break and it was Ernst who marked and goaled.
The Bulldogs’ first goal was kicked by the hard-running Hamish Morcom.
Storm replied with one of the goals of the day as Slater’s low kick from an acute angle near the boundary line bounced through.
It was a quick reply by Square as it won the centre break and Joel Brett goaled on the run.
An outstanding first half by Morcom included a contested mark in the forward pocket and snapshot goal to put the Bulldogs within 18 points.
Riley Clarke goaled for Storm after a free kick.
A Zavier Murley snap from a ball-up cut the margin to just 17 points approaching half-time.
When Morcom kicked truly after being freed in marking contest the Christian Carter-coached Bulldogs were within 12 points by the second minute of the third term.
As he has done so often for Storm, especially in big matches, it was Kallen Geary who won the contest in the centre and kicked long to the goalsquare where Baxter marked and brought up his fourth major.
The Bulldogs did plenty of attacking but shots on goal were astray as they racked up six consecutive behinds.
A James Schischka goal on the run put Storm up by 19 points going into the final term.
It was Strathfieldsaye which finished the contest strongly.
A Riley Clarke snap went through the goals and it was Slater who put the margin beyond five goals when he was on target on the run.
From the centre break the ball fell to Sharp who as he has done hundreds of times, snapped another goal.
Golden Square’s only goals in the last were icked by Jarrod Fitzpatrick and Jake Thrum.
A running goal by Gill was then followed by the man of the moment, Baxter Slater with his seventh to cap a best afield performance in a 98-60 victory.
Among the many highs for Storm was the work of Mitchell Hallinan in defence against the dangerous Brett who had kicked 92 goals in the run to the finals.
Hallinan’s poise and skill under pressure was more like a 200-game veteran, not someone in their 17th senior match for the club.
On-baller Jake Moorhead kept on racking up possessions as Daniel Clohesy and Kallen Geary were also to the fore in many of Storm’s attacks.
Key defender Lachlan Ratcliffe worked incredibly hard to curb the impact of the Bulldogs’ other key target in Jayden Burke.
Pressure in finals always rises and it was Storm which was able to ramp it up and sustain the level for longer.
On a tough afternoon for Golden Square it was Hamish Morcom, on-baller Ryan Hartley and captain Jack Geary who were the stand-outs.
Zavier Murley, Liam Barrett and Jack Stewart were also among the Bulldogs’ best.
A triple premiership-winning coach at Strathfieldsaye, Darryl Wilson praised Storm’s workrate.
“The workrate and pressure in and around the contest was fantastic,” Wilson said.
“We knew we would have to work hard to eliminate Golden Square’s run and carry.
“They are a quality team who a week earlier had really hurt us, not just in winning the footy, but their ability to move the ball quickly.”
Six goals to nil in the opening term lifted Storm’s confidence.
What was just as crucial was Strathfieldsaye’s defensive play, especially the back six.
“They were outstanding,” said Wilson.
“Mitch Hallinan is confident in his ability to win one-on-one duels and not daunted by who he is up against.
“Lachlan Ratcliffe also did a great job in limiting the impact that Jayden Burke had across half-forward or closer to goal.”
Storm will regain on-baller Callum McCarty for Saturday’s second semi-final against a Gisborne line-up which has won both clashes with Strathfieldsaye this season.
It’s a second chance for Golden Square which ended the home and away series in second place place and now faces South Bendigo in next Sunday’s first semi at the QEO.
It was a thrilling finish to the Harmac Homes reserves qualifying final between Gisborne and Strathfieldsaye.
Storm surged to a 19-9 lead by quarter-time, but Gisborne hit back to score 3.3 to 1.1 in the second to hold a four-point lead at the long break.
Strathfieldsaye regained the lead by three quarter-time after it added 2.2 to 1.1 in the third term.
A goal by captain Jakob Finch gave Storm an 11-point lead in the early minutes of the final quarter.
Gisborne hit back with a Dan Davie goal in the fifth minute.
Three minutes later and it was the Bulldogs who were back in front when James Fraser swooped on the loose ball from a marking contest and snapped truly with his left-foot on the run.
Gisborne led 49-48 in the eighth minute and it was strong defensive efforts from both teams from there on.
At the final siren, Gisborne led 7.10 (52) to 7.7 (49).
Goalkickers for Gisborne were Dan David and Jarryd Vernon, two; James Fraser, Heath Simpson and Dan Weaver.
Jordan Wilson kicked two goals for Storm as James Blood, Ben Deacon, Jakob Finch, Darcy Mulquiny and Mason Wakefield added one each.
Gisborne’s best were Jarryd Vernon, Dan Weaver, Boyd Nalder, Elijah Bretherton, Josh McDonald and Luke Weber.
Shannon Murphy, Jakob Finch, Jake Hall, Darcy Mulquiny, Zach Charles and Fergus Payne played well for Storm.
The finals series began with the Sportspower under-18s qualifying final between Golden Square and Gisborne.
In an all-Bulldogs battle it was Gisborne which led 25-8 at quarter-time and 41-21 by half-time.
Both line-ups scored 2.3 in the vital third term.
Gisborne led by 20 points at the 10-minute mark of the final quarter, but it was Golden Square which had finished strongly in many matches this season that began to dominate play.
The blue and gold worked hard to score four goals and be within three points in the 17th minute.
The final siren sounded in the 21st minute with Gisborne in front 64-60.
Shane Clough led Gisborne’s attack on three goals as Sam Wilson added two and James Fox, Darcy Lockens, Harry Luxmnoore chipped in with singles.
Golden Square’s attack was led by Baxter Gurd on three goals as Darcy Edmiston, Macey Eaton, Hugh Freckleton, Rhys Lourie, Billy Meade and Tommi Turner were also on target.
Best for Gisborne were Sam Simpson, Connor Bills, Kne Minns, Cameron Freake, James Fox and Phoenix James.
Captain Macey Eaton, Xavier Carter, Nick Sherriff, Zac Wescott, Rhys Lourie and Liam Thomas were Golden Square’s best.
Schedule for Saturday’s second semi-finals at QEO:
Bendigo Bank seniors at 2.20pm: Gisborne v Strathfieldsaye.
Harmac Homes reserves at 12.15pm: Golden Square v Gisborne.
Sportspower under-18s at 10.15am: Sandhurst v Gisborne.
Schedule for Sunday’s first semi-final at QEO:
Bendigo Bank seniors at 2.20pm: Golden Square v South Bendigo.
Harmac Homes reserves at 12.15pm: Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst.
SportsPower under-18s at 10.15am: Golden Square v Strathfieldsaye.
Written by Nathan Dole.