Wodonga Raiders’ class players have all but consigned Yarrawonga to the elimination final after claiming a 16.9 (105) to 8.10 (58) win on Saturday.
Yarrawonga closed the gap to 14 points midway through the third term, largely on the back of a red-hot 14 marks and four goals by Brandon Symes, but the home team’s high-profile players Brodie Filo, Jydon Neagle and Daniel Bowles proved the difference.
“We put our guns in there (in the midfield) in Brodie, Jydon and ‘Hodgie’ (Jarrod Hodgkin) and they were terrific and gave us first use inside 50,” Raiders’ coach Daryn Cresswell said.
It was almost a case of Symes v Raiders, in attack anyway, as he was the only player capable of hurting the second-placed outfit.
“Well, first of all, Symes is one of the best forwards in the competition,” Cresswell enthused.
“We always knew he was going to be a handful, but to Jordan’s credit (defender Jordan Rouse) in the second half, he responded and did a really good job on him.”
Raiders jumped the visitors, kicking four goals in the first seven minutes.
Hodgkin nailed a lovely running goal from a tight angle, a Pigeons’ error in defence handed Brad St John the next and he followed that a minute later before another mistake gifted Sam Stubbs the first of his three.
“I thought our contested footy was pretty good, but it’s our second and third use of the ball which hurt us today,” Yarrawonga coach Damian Sexton said.
The Pigeons steadied after the opening onslaught, but still trailed by 21 points at quarter-time.
Yarrawonga was able to maintain that margin over the next two terms, but when former Northern Territory medallist Filo landed a trademark running goal from around 45m on a tight angle and Neagle converted, the final term fizzled out as Raiders rammed on six goals to two.
“I thought in the second and third quarters we weren’t great around the footy, but I thought our last quarter around the footy, our intent, endeavour and decision making was a lot better,” Cresswell said.
Utility Bowles is coming into his own after moving across from the Goulburn Valley, while defender Alex Daly and youngster Jaxon Neagle also played well.
The energetic Brady Pritchard, defender Beau Seymour and pacy Bronson Schofield supported Symes in his five-star display.