Campaspe News - - SPORT - By ALEX MITCHELL

ROCHESTER’S dreams of a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive trip to the Goulburn Val­ley League grand fi­nal were ended on Sun­day with the Tigers no match for the Shep­par­ton Bears.

It seemed destined to be a thrilling con­test at the half with just six points in it, but the Bears hit full speed in the sec­ond half with eight con­sec­u­tive goals to blow their op­po­nent away and record a 46-point win.

The win moved the Bears to a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against Sey­mour this week­end, one game from a grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance while the Tigers will be forced to watch from the side­lines, their some­what promis­ing sea­son over ear­lier than de­sired.

The re­sult also ended the play­ing ca­reers of dec­o­rated Tiger trio El­liot Bowen, Heath Aitken and Sam Bren­nan, all three con­tribut­ing well through­out the con­test with five goals be­tween them.

‘‘They had the bet­ter start but we came back well and it was pretty even at half-time, but they ran all over us af­ter that par­tic­u­larly in the third quar­ter,’’ Rochester coach James Fla­herty said.

‘‘Their speed through the mid­field hurt us, they just seemed to be run­ning riot and we weren’t able to go with them — 17 in­side 50s in the third quar­ter made it pretty hard for the de­fence.

‘‘It hasn’t been a prob­lem in the last half of the sea­son. Our form was re­ally good go­ing in but we’ve done a bit of trav­el­ling re­cently and have some sore older bod­ies.’’

A close game was ex­pected, but Rochester took an early blow con­ced­ing four of the first five goals, Luke Smith kick­ing two.

It needed to lift and ral­lied with the last two goals of the first quar­ter to be within five points at quar­ter-time.

John Bradaric added a sec­ond goal early in the sec­ond but the Tigers had the an­swer, claim­ing the lead through Wil Hamil­ton.

The back-and-forth bat­tle con­tin­ued with Shep­par­ton wrestling back the lead, Bowen goal­ing shortly be­fore half-time to keep Rochester within a goal.

But things fell apart af­ter the in­ter­val, the fast-run­ning Bears put­ting their op­po­nents to the sword.

They kicked the next eight goals of the con­test with Bradaric com­plet­ing his five-goal haul, the Tigers with lit­tle an­swer for the ram­pag­ing side, even­tu­ally fall­ing 15.12 (102) to 8.8 (56).

Bowen again pro­duced bril­liantly up for­ward while usual con­trib­u­tors James Gledhill, Nathan Mar­rone and Dy­lan Cut­triss were some of Rochester’s best.

While the loss of ex­pe­ri­enced tal­ent will bring in new faces, the same face will re­main at the top of the side with Fla­herty signed on for next sea­son.

But the coach said the club would be a dif­fer­ent place with the key per­son­nel de­part­ing, the club’s ju­nior ranks put to the test as a re­sult.

‘‘Bowen was prob­a­bly in our best again, his half-for­ward role was re­ally im­por­tant, and Heath and Sam never stopped work­ing; they’re qual­ity peo­ple and qual­ity club­men,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s hard to re­place that but we need to look to­wards the fu­ture now. ‘‘Five or six of our un­der 18s have had

Af­ter start­ing (the sea­son) 1-4 we went 11-2 from there and won a fi­nal which was pleas­ing, but it was a dis­ap­point­ing way to end.’ — James Fla­herty, Rochester coach

se­nior ex­pe­ri­ence this sea­son, a few of them have played three, four or five games.

‘‘Har­ri­son McPhee, Bai­ley Wile­man and An­drew Har­ri­son stick out as three ju­niors who have made an im­pact at the se­nior level this sea­son and will look to ce­ment a spot go­ing for­ward.’’

Fla­herty said change was im­por­tant to re­vi­talise the play­ing list af­ter three sea­son push­ing to­wards the top of the league.

‘‘We prob­a­bly need some fresh faces and bod­ies,’’ he said.

‘‘Es­pe­cially with those three guys pulling up stumps. Even if they didn’t we would have looked for new faces be­cause it’s im­por­tant we make some changes.

‘‘We’ve been a sim­i­lar side for three sea­sons and we’ve been up and about, but it’s im­por­tant to get fresh faces in. We’ll tweak a cou­ple of things on the field too, so look­ing for­ward we’re ex­cited.’’

Af­ter a slow start to the sea­son, Fla­herty said fight­ing back and win­ning a fi­nal wasn’t a dis­as­trous sea­son by any means.

‘‘It was prob­a­bly a re­ward­ing sea­son in a way, but there were prob­a­bly three or four games we lost we re­ally didn’t want to,’’ he said.

‘‘We started poorly to be 1-4 so to bounce back through in­juries and blood a few young kids and fin­ish off well was good.

‘‘Af­ter start­ing 1-4 we went 11-2 from there and won a fi­nal which was pleas­ing, but it was a dis­ap­point­ing way to end.’’

Bruce Povey

Rochester’s Nick O’Con­nor em­ploys some eva­sive ma­neou­vres to try to avoid be­ing tack­led by a group of Shep­par­ton Bears play­ers in the Goulburn Val­ley Foot­ball League first semi-fi­nal on Sun­day while (left) the Tigers’ Perry Oliver re­verses the scene by...

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