Bullocking Wangaratta midfielder Matt Kelly’s inspirational final term has catapulted the club into its second successive grand final.
Kelly’s blistering 10-minute spell turned a tenuous four-point lead into a match-busting 16-point break.
- Five secs: Kelly clears the ball from the centre to spearhead Michael Newton. He doesn’t score from the tough shot.
- Two mins: In the battle of the game’s best midfielders, Kelly knocks the ball forward, beats Brodie Filo to the ball and snaps a great goal.
- Nine mins: He bursts the ball forward and Matt Hedin marks 45m out and lands the goal.
It was game over.
“He was enormous in that last quarter, I think he probably would have had three or four centre clearances in a row, without him, we probably don’t win the game, he was enormous,” Pies’ defender Jamie Anderson said.
It resembled Kelly’s final term in last year’s grand final win over Albury.
The nuggety on-baller had had two quiet quarters after a lightning start, but when the game was there to be won he exploded out of the centre for another Newton goal and then pulled off two crucial smothers in a 30-second period shortly after.
He’s the ultimate big-match performer who wills himself into every contest possible.
It’s little wonder the 170cm powerhouse is so popular at the Pies.
Kelly finished with an equal match-high 27 disposals, joining Raiders’ Jarrod Hodgkin.
The 31-year-old missed two and a half months from late May with a broken wrist, the second of his career.
Interestingly, he hadn’t been named in the best in the first seven rounds.
And he admitted at the time his form was down.
“Not great, not too bad, I probably didn’t get as much pre-season under my belt as I did last year and with work (as a builder), we’ve got extremely busy,” he said.
But in a worrying sign for Albury in Sunday’s grand final re-match at Wangaratta’s home ground, Norm Minns Oval, Kelly has featured in four of the past five games.
And the Pies too appear to have timed their run superbly.
Just past the halfway mark, the premiers lost to Albury and Yarrawonga by 97 and 41 points respectively, albeit with a host of players out.
The band is now back together, the Pies have won successive finals and chasing another grand final upset.
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