REIGNING premier Mitta United put a week of high drama behind it to steamroll Thurgoona by 27 points in the Tallangatta and District league’s qualifying final at Sandy Creek on Saturday.
Only days after the teams were handed 15 matches in suspensions by the tribunal stemming from their previous meeting in July, the Blues responded superbly to set up a clash with Dederang-Mount Beauty in this weekend’s second semi-final.
The win may have come at a price with ruckman Nick Fraser hurting his knee during the second term and taking no further part in the match.
Coach Clinton Gilson was delighted with the way his charges moved on from the mid-week turmoil.
“We put a big emphasis on not worrying about what happened during the week,” Gilson said.
“It was just hard footy like Jason (Sheather) and I expected.
“We started well and probably the only thing that let us down was that we sprayed a few shots and probably could have won by more.”
Mitta United kicked three of the first four goals of the match with Brent Olsen, Darcy Eaton, Alex Beggs, Paul Giltrap and Jarrod Gorupic in the thick of the action.
The Bulldogs pegged the deficit back to four points midway through the second stanza before Gilson’s team got another run on and increased the buffer to 22 points at half-time.
With Jeff Cox blanketing Luke Donnan out of the match, scoring was always going to be difficult for Thurgoona with Todd Miller its only avenue to goal.
Brad Sutcliffe and Nathan Reynoldson split the honours in their midfield battle, while Craig Taylor and Aydan Brown were also solid contributors.
A disappointed Thurgoona coach Jason Sheather, who made a surprise return to the playing arena, conceded Mitta United deserved to win.
“They attacked the ball better and wanted it a bit more,” he said.
“We struggled to get the ball beyond the half-forward line.
“Our challenge is to regroup and do it the hard way now.”
Gilson said his team would need to bring the same work ethic to defeat the Bombers.