WHY NOT US?

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - By STRUAN JONES

BRIGHT’S Moun­tain Men will face the ul­ti­mate test, for the ul­ti­mate re­ward, this Satur­day when they take on Mi­lawa in the Ovens and King Grand Fi­nal at Wan­garatta’s WJ Find­lay Oval. Bright coach Tom Mul­laneGrant said he couldn’t be more ex­cited to have earned the chance to lead the side into the big­gest match of the year.

THERE were emo­tional scenes in the Bright rooms af­ter their 26-point pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal vic­tory se­cured them a spot in the grand fi­nal to take on Mi­lawa this Satur­day.

In cold, some­times rainy, some­times sunny, con­stantly windy con­di­tions in Tar­rawingee, Bright ex­ploded any home-ground ad­van­tage the Bull­dogs may have thought they’d lever­age. It was a game Bright could have played any­where.

While Tar­rawingee has held the wood over Bright this sea­son (and the past four sea­sons, for that mat­ter) with two sig­nif­i­cant vic­to­ries, the Moun­tain Men laid waste to any re­main­ing hopes the Bull­dogs held out for a grand fi­nal spot.

While Tar­rawingee was com­pet­i­tive in parts, and ner­vously close on the score­board all the way into the fi­nal quar­ter, Bright was a side pos­sessed, and no team less than Mi­lawa was go­ing to get in their way.

The Moun­tain Men, wear­ing their spe­cial in­dige­nous-in­spired jumpers, came out as if no his­tory had ever ex­isted be­tween the two clubs, and got an early break over the home side.

A 5.2 (32) to 2.4 (16) quar­ter was closer than the score­board let on, but ac­cu­racy up for­ward and pres­sure down back was the key for the Moun­tain Men.

The sec­ond quar­ter slowed to a grind, yet Bright con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate for­ward en­tries. Their 2.6 (18) si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­tended the mar­gin while keep­ing the Bull­dogs in the game, who man­aged 2.0 (12) them­selves.

The 7.8 (50) to 4.4 (28) lead Bright took into half-time would be cru­cial, as run­ning out for the third quar­ter the wind straight­ened be­hind the backs of Tar­rawingee and their scor­ing started to gather speed.

While Bright strug­gled to con­vert into the breeze kick­ing 0.4 (4), the Bull­dogs sent the ball long and had the Bright de­fend­ers scram­bling to limit the dam­age.

Last minute call up into the se­nior ranks, hard­man de­fender Nathan Smith suf­fered an ugly in­jury, des­per­ately run­ning back and across in front of an ad­vanc­ing con­test, ef­fect­ing the spoil but dis­lo­cat­ing his el­bow at the same time, and was taken off the ground in sig­nif­i­cant pain.

For the quar­ter Tar­rawingee kicked 4.3 (27) to take back a fin­ger­nail one-point lead at the three-quar­ter time siren.

If the one-point lead to Tar­rawingee had Bright sup­port­ers ner­vous, the Bull­dogs kick­ing a quick open­ing goal of the last quar­ter didn’t help.

From that mo­ment on, how­ever, Bright looked com­posed and dan­ger­ous. For­ward en­tries started to flow and scor­ing soon fol­lowed.

Cru­cial marks and set shot goals by Bright coach Tom Mullane-Grant started to put the game firmly in Bright’s hands.

Mullane-Grant would fin­ish with five goals de­spite spend­ing parts of the game win­ning cen­tre clear­ances or work­ing across half-back.

While Tar­rawingee man­aged a sec­ond goal in the last quar­ter to give them some hope, Bright’s 6.5 (41) took the game away.

The strong fin­ish was the per­fect end to a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and also the per­fect start to a grand fi­nal week, where 21 Bright play­ers pre­pare for ar­guably the big­gest week of their foot­ball ca­reers.

In the Bright rooms post­match, packed with fam­ily and sup­port­ers, tremen­dous re­lief was mixed with ex­cite­ment as Mullane-Grant ad­dressed the play­ers, mak­ing spe­cial men­tion of club stal­wart Bradley Nightin­gale who has missed the fi­nals due to in­jury.

The Ovens and King grand fi­nal be­tween Bright and Mi­lawa starts at 2.15pm this Satur­day at the WJ Find­lay Oval in Wan­garatta.

PHOTO: Karl Phillip­son

PRES­SURE COOKER: Bright tough nut Nick How­ell kicks the ball out of con­ges­tion in the Moun­tain Men’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal win on Satur­day.

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