Wangaratta will be chasing successive premierships for the first time in a decade after a ‘perfect’ last quarter blitz ended Wodonga Raiders’ season on Sunday.
The premiers led by four points, but produced six straight goals under pressure to the underdogs’ one goal four to post a 15.8 (98) to 9.14 (68) win at the Albury Sportsground.
The Pies will now host the first grand final out of Albury-Wodonga in 24 years against Albury on Sunday.
“The style Raiders play they flood back and then you’ve got to catch them on the way through, which we didn’t do particularly well in the first half,” Pies’ backman Jamie Anderson said.
“We restricted that at the start of the second half and weren’t letting them get those numbers in there and getting free ball as much.
“Once we stopped that, we got on top.”
The style Raiders play they flood back and then you’ve got to catch them on the way through, which we didn’t do particularly well in the first half. We restricted that at the start of the second half ... once we stopped that, we got on top.Jamie Anderson
Wangaratta kicked nine goals two after half-time, Raiders two seven.
“Full credit to ‘Wang’, they were the better team,” Raiders’ coach Daryn Cresswell admitted.
“I thought our effort was fantastic, but we just couldn’t do enough with the footy, particularly in the front half.
“When you generate so much footy in that part of the ground and you turn it over, it’s really deflating.
“Every time we went forward, we just couldn’t score at all.”
It was a nervous start by both teams, with Raiders’ Raven Jolliffe playing on after marking 15m from goal and missing, while Mat Grossman missed from five metres, on a slight angle, running towards goal.
But Raiders were given an early indication of Wangaratta captain Michael Newton’s firepower, taking four marks in the first 12 minutes opposed to Jordan Rouse.
Raiders carried an eight-point lead into the second term and the Pies reduced that by a point at the main break.
When Dylan Clarke goaled early the margin was back to two kicks, but from there they landed just one more and dominated territiory for a 10-minute period, but failed to ram home the advantage.
Pies’ on-baller Matt Kelly was superb, particularly in the final quarter, while Newton finished with six goals.
Ruckman Zac Leitch was outstanding, while Mark Anderson kept Raiders’ star Brodie Filo to 20 touches.
Raider Jydon Neagle (two goals) and Tom McCaffrey were inspirational.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here