Fin­ley se­cures 12th Swan Shield ti­tle

Southern Riverina news - - Sport -

FIN­LEY High School’s fan­tas­tic foot­ball sea­son con­cluded last week when it won the NSW Un­der 15 knock­out com­pe­ti­tion — the Swan Shield.

The Fin­ley Spi­ders took the ti­tle by firstly beat­ing Lis­arow High by 62 points in the semi-fi­nal, then led all day against de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Al­bury High, run­ning out 29 point win­ners.

From the first bounce, the Fin­ley boys were switched on and primed to play.

Al­lis­ter Clarke, Dal­las Si­braa, Matt McVeigh and state player Blair Hen­ery gave their for­wards first use of the ball, with Kyle Coates quick to pounce with the first goal of the fi­nal.

Al­bury fol­lowed soon af­ter, but Mark Mc­Qual­ter, Si­braa and Jess Koop­man also added goals to see Fin­ley 4-1 to 1-0 at the first break.

Al­bury lifted its game in the sec­ond quar­ter, de­spite Liam Pot­ter do­ing a bril­liant job on their best player.

The home team seemed to be a bit quicker with their leg speed, but out­stand­ing de­fence from Lach­lan Westwood, Sam Miles, Bai­ley Burke and par­tic­u­larly Rowan Smith, who was play­ing the game of his life, helped to keep the score in check.

Ai­dan Mur­phy-Riddell was pro­vid­ing an ex­cel­lent con­test in the cen­tre, with his clear­ances vi­tal to Fin­ley main­tain­ing the lead.

But when Jye Hol­combe slot­ted his first goal of the sea­son, fol­lowed by Clarke and Coates, the Spi­ders had ex­tended their lead to 25 points at the main break.

Mur­phy-Riddell pounced on a loose ball straight af­ter the re­sump­tion, as the Spi­ders’ lead grew and the game threat­ened to be­come a blow out.

How­ever, to Al­bury’s credit, it launched a fight­back. The home side kicked the next three goals and the game re­ally tight­ened up.

Jesse Mc­Don­ald was prov­ing a vi­tal link at cen­tre half for­ward or in the ruck, en­sur­ing the ball kept launch­ing into the Spi­der for­ward line, but the de­fence was un­der huge pres­sure.

The ef­forts of Smith and Pot­ter were su­perb un­der pres­sure, with many at­tack­ing raids de­fused.

A late goal to Levi Mid­dle­ton re­lieved some pres­sure, but it was game on. Scores at the fi­nal break were Fin­ley 9-4 to Al­bury 6-3.

Af­ter a spray from O&M leg­end Tim San­son, Al­bury came out full of run­ning.

When five min­utes of end-to-end footy fin­ished with an Al­bury goal, the mar­gin was back to 14 points.

Cool heads from Clarke, Hen­ery, Hol­combe, Si­braa, Miles and Mur­phy-Riddell saw the Spi­ders re­gain com­po­sure when they could have pan­icked, and some slick passes ended up with Burke goal­ing.

When Koop­man fol­lowed it up with an ex­cel­lent run­ning goal, Fin­ley had one hand on the shield.

Mid­dle­ton sealed it with a strong mark and straight kick to take the mar­gin out to 29 points.

When the fi­nal siren sounded, Fin­ley was in front 12.4 to 7.5, re­turn­ing the Swan Shield to its right­ful home.

This gave the Spi­ders their 12th ti­tle in the 29-year his­tory of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Best: Rowan Smith, Blair Hen­ery, Al­lis­ter Clarke, Jye Hol­combe, Liam Pot­ter, Kyle Coates.

Goals: Jess Koop­man 2, Kyle Coates 2, Levi Mid­dle­ton 2, Mark Mc­Qual­ter, Dal­las Si­braa, Al­lis­ter Clarke, Jye Hol­combe, Ai­dan Mur­phy-Riddell, Bai­ley Burke.

The pre­vi­ous day Fin­ley had con­vinc­ingly beaten Cen­tral Coast school Lis­arow to qual­ify for the fi­nal.

De­spite seem­ing rusty from lack of foot­ball in re­cent weeks, the Spi­ders were steady against a phys­i­cally big­ger and stronger op­po­nent that lacked foot­ball aware­ness.

Rowan Smith was fan­tas­tic in de­fence all day, Dy­lan Clark did a great job in the key po­si­tions down back, and Brodie Newton, Josh Allan and Joe Catena made life hard for the larger Lis­arow for­wards.

Matt McVeigh, Mc­Don­ald and Coates did well in the ruck against some mon­sters, while Luke Con­gram and Daniel Bryce did some nice work across half for­ward.

The ever-re­li­able Hen­ery, Burke, Al Clarke, Miles and Hol­combe pro­vided a lot of run on a mis­er­able day.

In the end, the Spi­ders did enough to run out 62 point win­ners, 11.10 (76) to 2.2 (14).

Goals went to Si­braa (2), Mid­dle­ton (2), Mc­Qual­ter (2), Koop­man, Hen­ery, Mur­phy-Riddell, Mc­Don­ald and Coates.

Rowan Smith was awarded player of the fi­nals for his su­perb job in the back­line in both games.

●●● The 2011 NSW CHS Swan Shield Cham­pion team: Josh Allan, Rowan Smith, Sam Miles, Lach­lan Westwood, Liam Pot­ter, Bai­ley Burke, Jye Hol­combe, Blair Hen­ery, Jess Koop­man, Levi Mid­dle­ton, Jesse Mc­Don­ald, Luke Con­gram, Kyle Coates, Ai­dan Mur­phy-Riddell, Mark Mc­Qual­ter, Matt McVeigh, Al­lis­ter Clarke, Dal­las Si­braa, Joe Catena, Daniel Bryce, Brodie Newton, Dy­lan Clark.

The team was cap­tained by Al­lis­ter Clarke, Blair Hen­ery and Jess Koop­man.

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