St Mary’s 3.5 (23) d Yea 2.6 (18)
St Mary’s travelled to Broadford this week to take on the in-form Seymour in the under-16 preliminary final.
The Saints were desperate to secure a grand final berth and square the ledger against Euroa, who had beaten them in the semi-final the previous week.
Seymour had well and truly earned its place in the final with a strong performance against Yea.
The Lions were pumped to take on St Mary’s on Broadford’s freshly-furnished Harley Hammond Reserve.
Last week, the Saints showed they are genuine contenders by mounting a comeback against Euroa in the second quarter.
The Saints fought valiantly to give themselves a chance but the blistering first quarter from Euroa proved to be too great a deficit to make up.
After a solid week of training the Saints were ready to clinch a spot in the grand final.
The Saints benefited from the return of goalkicking machine Hudson Kaak, who was sporting a fresh new haircut.
After watching the under-12s snatch a nail-biting win over Yea earlier in the day, the club was on a high going into the final game of the day.
A fiercely contested game ensued but it was Seymour who got on the board first thanks to undisciplined play from St Mary’s.
Mathew Collard won a hard-ball get, earning a downfield free kick to Dylan Cook.
Cook settled and drilled it home to get the Saints on the board.
Another free kick and 50m penalty put Seymour within goal scoring distance, giving away another soft goal.
Sam Durham was getting his fair share of the ball early, but a number of costly turnovers resulted in Seymour beating the Saints in their clearances out of defence.
Collard continued his brilliance with his rough and tumble play and was rewarded with a great grab inside 50m.
He went back, kicked accurately and picked up his first goal for the afternoon.
The Saints kept attacking and looked strong in the forward half but ended the quarter in front by just two points.
The second quarter got off to a hot start with both sides tackling and running hard for the footy.
A beautiful piece of team play resulted in a running goal to Tom Maher.
This lifted the Saints and they started to win the centre clearances.
Kaak sat the first quarter out on the bench but had an immediate impact after the break.
A strong forward lead gave him his first major for the afternoon.
Running the flanks was a strong option for the Saints but a lot of hard running and tackling from the Lions kept the Saints at bay.
Keegan Grant, Harry Corboy, the Maher brothers and Durham kept the flow of play going and Kaak’s impact was huge for the Saints.
It wasn’t long before the man mountain notched up a couple of quick goals, bringing his tally to three and giving the Saints a 28-point lead at half-time.
With the Saints off and running they were searching for solid options in Jack Tricarico, Corey Jones, Lachlan Aldous, Will Eager and Ollie Lubeck.
All six were fantastic in defence and gave St Mary’s more than enough bounce back into attack.
Coach Rod Mann demanded more from his group in a tight half-time huddle.
The Saints needed to keep running their options and winning the hard ball gets.
A strong clearance out of the centre provided Kaak with a terrific delivery to open the third quarter and he kicked up his fourth goal with ease.
Young Jaiden Donovan was unlucky not to be awarded a free kick after busting a pack and downing a rather large opponent, which sent the crowd into applause.
Some very unselfish play from Kaak gave Grant a shot from 20m out and directly in front of goal.
With the momentum going their way the Saints were consistently taking the smart option.
When Lubeck goaled on the run from an acute angle, the Saints were on a high.
The Lions continued to battle hard and were rewarded with a goal late in the third quarter.
Another undisciplined piece of play cost the Saints dearly when they gave away a fourth goal from a 50m penalty.
The Lions suddenly had some of their own momentum building.
With time running out, the Saints led by 36 points going into the final quarter.
A sniff of a grand final showdown against Euroa was well and truly on the cards and it turned out to be so, with St Mary’s claiming a 45-point victory.
Score: St Mary’s 10.12 (72) d Seymour 4.3 (27)