NCFL Semi-Final Preview | Bulls try to outrun Tigers in semi at Wycheproof


THE unbeaten Sea Lake Nandaly or reigning premier Birchip Watchem will be first to the Goldacres North Central FNL senior footy grand final when they clash on Saturday.

It’s a second semi-final showdown between the SLN Tigers and the Birchip-Watchem Bulls at Wycheproof from 2.30pm.

Joint winners of this season’s Feeny Medal as league fairest and best, Tigers’ playmaker Trent Donnan and Bulls’ star Nicholas Rippon will play crucial roles.

Both polled 20 votes to claim Feeny Medal honours.

Now the focus is firmly  on taking another big step toward premiership glory by winning Saturday’s match.

After a five-point loss to Donald at Birchip in round five the Bulls were 2-3.

Since then it’s been a 10-1 run.

A streak of 16 victories by the Bryce Delmenico and Billy McInnes-coached Tigers included an 80-74 win against the Bulls at Sea Lake in the second round.

On that day McInnes kicked four goals as Thomas Cox, Will Simpson and John Summerhayes chipped in with two.

Ben Edwards starred for the Trevor Ryan-coached Birchip-Watchem by kicking seven goals.

Best for the Tigers were Luke Martin, Trent and Wade Donnan, and Thomas Cox.

Bulls’ captain Dale Hinkley, Nicholas and Marshall Rippon, and Ben Edwards played well for the Bulls.

It was another closely-fought contest at Birchip’s George Cartwright Oval in the 11th round.

The Tigers led 59-55 at three quarter-time and then charged clear for a 77-68 victory.

Former Adelaide and Geelong forward Josh Jenkins kicked seven goals and looms as a major danger to the Bulls’ defence in the second semi.

The Birchip-Watchem attack was led by Ben Edwards, four; Nathan Gordon and Cormacc Wilson, two.

Best for the Tigers were Trent and Wade Donnan, Jack Poulton, Austin Mertz, Luke Martin and Tyson McKenzie.

Nicholas Rippon, Dale Hinkley, Nathan Gordon, Lachlan Ryan, Sam Simmons and Jonty Randall led the Bulls’ charge.

There are plenty of attacking options in an SLN attack led by Billy McInnes, 46 goals; John Summerhayes, 36; Josh Jenkins, 36 in six; Thomas Cox, 23; and Tyson McKenzie, 23.

The Tigers’ team includes captain Ryan O’Sullivan, Matt Farrelly and Kane Donnan.

A tally of 84 goals in 13 matches meant Edwards captured the league goalkicking award.

Other key targets for the Bulls are Nathan Gordon, 39; Daniel Castellano, 32; and Nicholas Rippon, 26.

Birchip-Watchem will also look for big games from the likes of Lochlan Sirett, Lachy Foott and Lachlan Ryan.

As the winner of Saturday’s match advances to the September 16 grand final, the defeated will line up in the September 9 preliminary final at Lord Nelson Park in St Arnaud.

League newcomer Nullawil won through to the preliminary final after a 90-62 victory against Donald in last Saturday’s first semi-final at Sea Lake.

Second semi-final day includes the Haeuslers reserves clash from 12.25pm between Sea Lake Nandaly and Nullawil.

A 15-1 run by the Tigers included a 58-35 victory against the Maroons in the fourth round.

The return clash was at Nullawil in the 13th round where the home team broke the Tigers unbeaten streak in a 53-41 result.

Best for Nullawil in that match were Jack Barry, Dude Kelly, Tom and Charlie Fawcett, Mitchell Barry and Matt Harrop.

The Tigers’ best were Joel Donnan, Rory McClelland, Cooper Allan, Codey Elliott, Will Conlan and Chase Tait.

Birchip-Watchem is in the preliminary final after a 35-point win against Boort in the first semi.

In the Charlton and District Community Bank-backed under-17s competition, St Arnaud takes on Boort in the second semi from 10.45am.

St Arnaud had a 15-1 record in the home and away series as Boort was second on 14-1 and a draw.

The Saints beat the Magpies by 10 points at Boort Park in round eight.

Next time it was Boort which triumphed 65-46 on the Saints’ ground at Lord Nelson Park in the 17th round.

Players to watch for the Saints include Frankie Donald, Tyson Funston, Ben Greenaway, Jackson Needs, Blayne Piper and Mason Thomas.

Boort’s line-up includes Brodie Arnold, Lachlan Hall, Beau Harrington, Jack Potter and Brodie Wagner.

Last Saturday’s first semi-final ended in a 93-34 win for Birchip-Watchem against Sea Lake Nandaly.

First-up on Saturday will be Sea Lake Nandaly and Donald in the Uniting Church-sponsored under-14s match at 9.20am.

The Tigers had a 15-1 record in the home-and-away series and the Royal Blues were 14-2.

Both of this season’s matches have gone the Tigers’ way – 17-11 at Donald in round eight, and 41-23 in the 17th round at Sea Lake.

Best in SLN’s latest win against Donald were Ben Barbary, Milton Bailey, Harry Wight, Charlie Winter-Goldman, Nate McClelland and Archie Alday.

Baylee Coleman-Young, Luca Rice, Jesse Lydom, Daniel Cooper were Donald’s best.