Industrials play off for first time in 21 years
Warragul Industrials have advanced to their first senior grand final in 21 years, defeating Neerim-Neerim South in an upset for Saturday’s second semi final at Darnum.
The Industrials overcame a slow start to run over the top of the Cats and continue the form that saw them defeat Catani the previous week to record the clubs’ first senior final win in 15 years.
With former Geelong and Gold Coast AFL player Nathan Ablett watching on, the Industrials were simply divine in the second half after the Cats had established a handy buffer in the first half.
While a 21-point advantage at the long break saw the Cats threatening to run away with it, the wobbles of previous finals campaigns emerged as the Industrials dominated the third term to put themselves back into the contest.
Earlier, it was the Cats who held sway to establish a handy buffer at the long break.
Michael Ablett sent the Industrials forward first, but Alex Gavin was able to intercept the attack.
The Cats scored the first goal from a boundary throw in, while the Industrials couldn’t buy a score early as the Cats cleared a scrubbed kick forward from Tyson Bale.
Chris Urie sent the Cats long, but Mathew Willis spoiled the ball out of play.
Allan Chandler centred for the Cats, but Cooper Minichiello cleared for the Industrials as neither side gave an inch.
Both teams traded attacks but were thwarted on each attempt.
Kody Wilson broke the deadlock for the Cats, with a long goal handing a 12-point advantage at the first change.
The Cats started the second term with a centre clearance finding Morrow on the lead, and while his shot drifted across the face, a snap from the pack was on target.
The Industrials went long and Shane Ingham was able to protect the flight of the ball to register the first goal for his side.
Nickels goaled on the lead, before Will Jolley centred to Ingham to set up a soccer on goal to take the lead.
But it was the Cats who would kick the next three majors to establish a handy buffer.
A snap on goal put the Cats back in front before another rebound from Shiels set up the Cats’ fifth.
The Cats continued to attack with the Industrials defence holding firm.
Tensions began to boil over, with Shiels and Jolley exchanging jumper punches to the throat and finding themselves forced to each spend 15 minutes on the bench.
Morrow converted a shot from out wide as the Cats went into half time well-placed with a 21-point advantage.
But the Industrials were far from ready to lie down.
The Industrials kicked the first goal of the third term, but the Cats were able to steady with a snap on goal.
Tyssen Morrow got on the end of a long lead, only for the Industrials to clear from a free kick.
A long shot from Kody Wilson sailed out on the full, and Tye Holland capitalised at the other end with a long goal to close the gap.
Allan Chandler took the advantage as the Cats aimed for the immediate response. He looked for a leading option, but the pass was spoiled and rushed through for a minor score.
The Cats went long and broke through for a snap on goal.
A handball from Nathan Bayne set up the next attack, but the Cats player was run down and caught holding the ball.
Aiden Dibsdale also set up an attack from handball, but Chris Urie couldn’t barge his way through and was also caught holding the ball.
The Industrials dominated the attacking opportunities for the remainder of the term.
A downfield free kick for a late push on Tye Holland resulted in a long goal and set the impetus for an Industrials comeback of epic proportions.
While River Ford had been immediately set upon from the next attack, the Industrials reloaded and went long to find Corey Nickels for a strong mark and goal.
Josh Seri found John Ikupu in space, but the kick forward sailed out of bounds.
Persistence paid off as the Industrials scored the next major to close the gap.
Travis Ogden went long, but a ball up was forced.
The Cats looked to attack again, but got played by the dreaded footsteps as Michael cleared for the Industrials.
The Cats went forward again but couldn’t hold the juggled attempt at a mark. The Industrials cleared through Shane Brewster and Will Jolley to set up a shot from out wide on the siren.
While the shot sailed out on the full, the Industrials had all the momentum to close the margin to just three points at the final change and give themselves every chance of pulling off an upset.
Good delivery from Tyson Bale found Brewster as the Industrials continued their momentum with the first major of the final term.
The Industrials won the clearance and found Nickells on the long lead, who kicked truly.
A give and get from Calum Shiels set up an attack for the Cats, but a ball up was forced.
Wilson found space for the Cats, but his shot slewed off the side of the boot and missed.
A long left footer put the ball deep into attack for the Industrials, but the ball was rushed.
Dibsdale and Shiels combined for the Cats, but Chandler couldn’t hold the mark.
Dibsdale won a free kick for holding the ball, and he converted to excite the crowd once more.
Bale kicked forward into space, and while a ball up was forced, Jolley took advantage of the next opportunity to crumb a goal.
Tim Leicester missed a snap on goal for the Cats, before a free kick in front of goal was converted to close the gap again.
Shiels continued to cut off attacks, but still the Industrials continued to press.
An impressive run from the wing ended out of bounds, before Russell Ware took a downfield free kick but the opportunity was rushed.
Jolley missed a shot from half forward, but no mistake from Brewster who goaled from a strong contested mark.
Shiels cut off another attack, before Michael Ablett and Dylan Holland combined to send the Industrials forward again.
In what typified the inspirational second half effort from the Industrials, the final play of the day saw Tye Holland take a strong mark opposed to Cats ruckman Alex Gavin and kick a long goal to seal the Industrials’ place in the grand final in a fortnight’s time. Ablett
Warragul Industrials player Jackson Kos kicks into attack.
Right: Neerim-Neerim South player Calum Shiels handpasses to teammate Douglas Black as Warragul Industrials player John Ikupu moves in to apply pressure; Photographs: Tom Elton.
Warragul Industrials player Mathew Willis marks.
Neerim-Neerim South’s Aiden Dibsdale fails to escape a strong tackle from Warragul Industrials player Travis Ogden.