REIGNING premier Yarrawonga will enter this week’s grand final rematch against Albury as massive underdogs despite beating Wodonga Raiders by 32 points at Birallee Park on Saturday.
After a defensive opening quarter, Pigeon supporters had hoped their form slump might have turned the corner with their best quarter for several weeks — a seven-goal-to-two second term.
It was a quarter full of quality as the Pigeons had a number of players doing the things together that win games.
Brendan Fevola led the way, kicking two goals and having five assists within 30 metres of goal in an unselfish display.
Late replacement for the injured Kayne Pettifer, Matt Grinter, kicked three goals in his first senior game since the 2009 grand final.
But as good as the Pigeons were in the second, they returned to their woeful worst in the third.
Fevola extended the lead to 44 points, but the Raiders replied with four to get within 18.
Michael Steven, Steve Jolliffe, Danyl Woods, Jack Di Mizio, Ben Murphy and full-back John Spencer led the charge.
Raiders played competitive football, but their inability to produce it for long periods is hurting.
“At times we were all right,” co-coach Simon Bone said.
“Our Achilles heel has been coughing it up and the good sides expose you when that happens.”
Steven got the Raiders within 14 points with the first goal of the last quarter, but Fevola’s class rose to the top.
Working away from goal, his three long bombs proved extremely timely.
Defender Luke Ednie provided the highlight with a last quarter screamer in probably his best senior game.
Drew Barnes and Craig Ednie were at their best, while Michael Handby, Brandon Symes and Brad O’Connor also did well.
But the topsy turvy Pigeons would not have given Albury spy Paul Spargo much concern.
Yarrawonga will face the rampaging Tigers without Pettifer and midfielder Tim Cooper (overseas).
“Nobody will pick us and they will start favourite,” Yarrawonga co-coach Chris Kennedy said.
“They are the form team of the competition and we are out of form.
“They are peaking while our focus is to finish top three.
“We are not flash at the moment but there will be plenty of other teams out there that would be happy with only one defeat at the halfway mark.”