BARNAWARTHA earned a shot at its first Tallangatta and District league premiership since 2002 with a stirring 30-point victory against Dederang-Mount Beauty in the preliminary final at Sandy Creek on Saturday.
The Tigers recovered from a slow start to run-out 12.12 (84) to 8.6 (54) victors to keep their dream alive of emulating Kiewa-Sandy Creek’s feat in 2011 when they won the flag from the elimination final.
Coach Mark Sarau was rapt with the way his charges responded after the Bombers threatened to blow them away early.
“There is a lot of belief in the team at present,” Sarau said.
“We knew it was going to be tough and it was.
“The boys kept at it and we’re very confident when we are in a close game that we can get through.
“It was a fantastic effort, but we still have work to do.”
After conceding the opening three goals of the match, Barnawartha hit back strongly with ruckman Lachie Barter leading the way in his absorbing battle with Bomber Steve Bradshaw.
Bradshaw won the majority of the hit-outs, while Barter’s mobility around the ground was outstanding with Tim and Jack Price, Matt McNamara and Cameron McNeill feasting on his work.
Danny Demarte held a physically battling Daniel Bradshaw to three goals and Jeremiah Madden restricted Darren Bradshaw to two.
Sarau admitted being surprised when Bomber forward Joel Mansell, who has kicked 35 goals from 19 matches this season, lined up in the reserves.
“We saw Joel was picked in the reserves, but I thought Marc (Almond) might have been playing ducks and drakes,” Sarau said.
Dederang-Mount Beauty’s Matt Lee was outstanding in defence holding Tiger dangerman Peter Cook to three majors, youngster Elliott Powell lived up to his growing reputation with a solid performance in the midfield and Joel Barker held his own against tough opposition.
Joel Heiner and Louie Iaria stood firm for the Bombers.
Sarau said Barnawartha had no doubt Mitta United would provide its toughest challenge.
“All year Mitta has been hovering third and it’s going to be mighty tough,” he said
“They play a really in your face, bullish brand of football and we will have to play well.
“We are there though and we are a chance.”