Fin­ley fight­back

Southern Riverina news - - SPORT -

For the sec­ond week in a row a big last quar­ter from Fin­ley has led to a fight­ing win in the Mur­ray Foot­ball League.

The Cats got over a plucky vis­it­ing Congupna by 13 points in the round 13 clash on Satur­day.

Trail­ing by 14 points at half time, the Cats clawed their way back to bring the mar­gin to two points at the fi­nal break and booted 29 points to 14 to claim an im­por­tant vic­tory head­ing into the back end of the sea­son.

Com­ing off a solid win the week be­fore against a team placed above them on the lad­der, the Cats were mind­ful that Satur­day’s op­po­si­tion were also look­ing to ce­ment a spot in the fi­nals.

Fin­ley were forced to make changes to the line-up with Zec Cup­pens, Scott Sher­wen, Wil­lie Robertson and Robb Jewell all out.

Lachy Hawkins was also a late with­drawal and the se­lec­tors turned to youth as re­place­ments — Sam Orro, Ben Ash­leyCooper and Duncan Clarke the ins.

The home side be­gan ten­ta­tively and it was the vis­i­tors who posted the open­ing goal ben­e­fit­ing from a 50m penalty.

Nick Robertson, Mitch Ryan and Lachy Small were stand­ing strong in de­fence, with­hold­ing most of the Road’s at­tack.

Fin­ley’s Tim McKen­zie, Ed Barlow and Shaun Kable play­ing for­ward were lively and from an early stage it was ev­i­dent the game would be a close one.

Tommy McCar­ney was given the run-with role on Bry­den Squire and the Cats were made fully aware the Road would set up through Josh Chap­man and Lachy Bald­win across half back.

Cameron Robertson was the first to con­vert for the Cats mark­ing strongly in the con­test after some clever work up­field from Ash­ley Cooper.

Mitchell Beck soon re­sponded for Congupna who led at the first change by five points.

Paul Mass­ing­ham was busy early and his pres­sure in the for­ward line was re­warded with a free and the re­sul­tant goal was badly needed. Chris Grant then roved the pack bril­liantly for the Road and the lead changed again.

A free to Matt Wil­son play­ing on the wing re­sulted in his first goal but this was to be Fin­ley’s last for the quar­ter as Congupna feasted on turnovers and poor choices when en­ter­ing the for­ward line. Sam Fer­gu­son was the ben­e­fi­ciary and his two goals for the term saw the mar­gin out to 14 points at the main break in favour of the vis­i­tors.

Duncan Clarke proved to be the spark the Cats needed. He en­tered the match early as a sub­sti­tute for the in­jured Tim Mead who played no part after quar­ter time. A strong pack mark and goal and another saw the young­ster draw the mar­gin back to two points.

With Barlow suf­fer­ing a re­cur­ring groin in­jury be­fore half time ro­ta­tions were lim­ited and it was ob­vi­ous the play­ers would need to dig deep.

Tom Doyle rucked strongly all day pro­vid­ing Levi Mid­dle­ton and An­gus Robertson plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Cats and their work at the clear­ances slowly brought the home side back into the con­test.

Congupna were first to goal in the last term through Josh Dwyer. A quick re­ply from Marc Shaw on the run had the vo­cal home crowd on the edge of their seats.

Ash­ley-Cooper was again prom­i­nent hit­ting McKen­zie on a lead after Doyle and Mid­dle­ton com­bined at the clear­ance.

When McKen­zie bent another shot around his body for a goal on the run the Cats were com­ing home strongly as they did the pre­vi­ous week — 13 point win­ners on the fi­nal siren.

Fin­ley coach Rob Daniel said he was happy his side came out strong in the sec­ond half and praised his younger play­ers for their ef­forts.

‘‘It was a pretty or­di­nary first half . . . we al­lowed them too much space and they were get­ting a few easy un­con­tested pos­ses­sions.

‘‘We kicked into gear in the sec­ond half by beat­ing them to the ball and ap­ply­ing more pres­sure.

‘‘Ben Ash­ley-Cooper and Duncan Clarke both played well. Duncan kicked two quick goals in the third quar­ter which re­ally helped us.’’

Two weeks ago the Cats faded in the last quar­ter de­spite beat­ing Echuca United by 18 points, how­ever they’ve outscored their op­po­nents 74 to 21 in the past two matches in fourth quar­ters com­bined.

Daniel said it was some­thing he brought up with the play­ers at train­ing.

‘‘One thing we haven’t done is play con­sis­tent four quar­ters all sea­son,’’ he said.

‘‘Once we find con­sis­tency we can match any side and we’re go­ing to need to do that mov­ing for­ward.’’

This week the Cats have a gen­eral Mur­ray League bye be­fore tak­ing on Mul­wala who they are equal with on 28 points on the lad­der.

The last time the two teams played it was ar­guably the Cats’ worst per­for­mance of the year go­ing down by 56 points and held to a sea­son low 35 points for the match.

‘‘You al­ways take away some­thing from a loss,’’ Daniel said.

‘‘Mul­wala are never an easy side to play and are usu­ally hard at the ball and like to con­trol the con­test.’’

If the Cats win they could sit as high as fourth on the lad­der de­pend­ing on other re­sults.

Sadly for the Cats the in­juries to Barlow and Mead may see them miss against Mul­wala.

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