Bat­tle set for spot in fi­nal

Narrogin Observer - - Observer Sports - An­drew Pritchard

Nar­ro­gin will face Bod­ding­ton in Kuk­erin for a spot in the Up­per Great South­ern Foot­ball League grand fi­nal this week­end.

The win­ner will face off with the Katan­ning Wan­der­ers at Qu­ater­maine Oval in two weeks time, af­ter the Wan­der­ers de­feated Bod­ding­ton 17.15 (117) to 14.16 (100), at Clay­ton Road Oval, Nar­ro­gin.

It will be Katan­ning’s first UGSFL grand fi­nal since 2011.

This win gives Katan­ning Wan­der­ers their best chance of break­ing a long premier­ship drought of 31 years, since its last premier­ship in 1986.

In a highly en­ter­tain­ing and skil­ful game Wan­der­ers with­stood a de­ter­mined fight­back in the third quar­ter from Bod­ding­ton, in which it re­duced a four-goal, half-time deficit to two points at three-quar­ter time.

In the last quar­ter with the aid of a fresh­en­ing breeze and with Josh Bootsma, who was moved to the for­ward line in the third quar­ter, kick­ing two goals Wan­der­ers stead­ied to record a hard-fought win and a week’s rest.

Again Tim Fitzger­ald pro­vided a re­li­able av­enue in the for­ward line, with five goals and pacey for­ward Kane Shephard kicked four, two of which were out­stand­ing — one an over­head goal square snap and the other a set shot deep in the right for­ward pocket — in the sec­ond quar­ter.

In ideal spring-like weather con­di­tions, in front of a big crowd, Bod­ding­ton started strongly and had their first goal on the board within 30 sec­onds af­ter a strong mark from full-for­ward Damian Hay­ward. Wan­der­ers re­sponded with three goals from Fitzger­ald, all from strong marks on the lead.

In a fast-paced start Wan­der­ers led 6.4 to 3.3 at quar­ter-time.

In an even sec­ond quar­ter, Wan­der­ers jumped Bod­ding­ton with Shephard kick­ing three and Fitzger­ald his fourth.

How­ever, Bod­ding­ton re­sponded and Her­man Humphries and Hay­ward and Eric Moody com­bined to kick four goals to keep Bod­ding­ton within strik­ing dis­tance. Wan­der­ers led by four goals at half-time, 11.7 to 7.7.

The third quar­ter for long pe­ri­ods was con­trolled by Bod­ding­ton and aided by Wan­der­ers’ in­ac­cu­rate kick­ing at goal. Matt Guimelli and Josh Kelly pro­vided drive out of the mid­dle and they moved within two points of Wan­der­ers at three-quar­ter time.

An en­thralling last quar­ter was on the cards. Wan­der­ers pre­vailed with Bootsma tak­ing telling marks in the for­ward line and Ja­cob Win­tle, Ricky Mar­ris, Dil­lon New­man and Ryan Pon­tillo ei­ther mark­ing strongly or spoil­ing op­po­si­tion marks to fin­ish with a five to two fi­nal quar­ter and book a place in the grand fi­nal, at home in a fort­night.

For Katan­ning Wan­der­ers, James Lau­rino and Tim Ste­wart led the mid­field, Pon­tillo, Win­tle and Mar­ris played strongly in de­fence, and Fitzger­ald, Shephard and Bar­den Crosby were lively in at­tack.

For Bod­ding­ton, An­drew Moody and Humphries were busy in the mid­field and in at­tack, Gi­umelli worked tire­lessly around the ground, and Mitchell and Jar­rod Salameri were pacey around the ground.

In the re­serves, Wa­gin de­feated Katan­ning Wan­der­ers by 23 points 8.9 (57) to 5.4 (34). In the un­der-14s, Nar­ro­gin and Katan­ning Wan­der­ers fought a tight bat­tle, with Nar­ro­gin win­ning by nine points, 5.3 (33) to 3.6 (24).

This win gives Wan­der­ers their best chance of break­ing a long premier­ship drought.

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