Speed Field Days Mallee Football League Second Semi Final Review
by Jim Gordon
WALPEUP UNDERBOOL V HOPETOUN
Walpeup Underbool confirmed their position as MFL premiership favourites with a very good win over a gallant Hopetoun at Sea Lake on Saturday. The Roos played a great brand of power packed football to book themselves a Grand Final berth at Rainbow in two weeks time.
In a high scoring affair and in front of a large crowd at Sea Lake with gate takings of $9,700, the Devils were by no means disgraced and even got to within two goals of the Roos in the final term. Nevertheless, they will be playing in the preliminary final at Blackburn Park in Ouyen next week.
This high standard game had everything: high marking, precision kicking and a relentless attack on the ball from both sides. It was fast paced and at times brutally physical, but played in the very best spirit of the game. In the end the Roos were just too good when it counted with a match winning eight goals to four in the third term.
It was during this quarter that the Walpeup Underbool midfield took charge and got well on top. With the hard running bustle of David Piasente dominant, the Roos were able to clear the ball out of the centre and keep it deep in their forward line for long periods of time.
The class of Piasente, who finished with seven goals, Joshua Charles, Sam McDonald and Ryan Anderson was probably the difference between the two sides on the day. They are highly polished first class players who rarely waste the ball with their disposal.
One of the great contests of the day was between Kain Robins and Jeremy Brown and both were valued contributors for their sides. Robins almost single-handed got the Devils back into the game in the final term when he went into the centre and provided a focal point for Hopetoun going forward. He ended up with four goals showing his value to the Hopetoun side.
The Devils got away well in the first term by applying a great deal of pressure to the Roos and causing turnovers. It was as if they knew that they had to man up on the Walpeup Underbool ball winners to give themselves any chance of coming away with a win.
In this early part of the game the Devils were able to convert turnovers into goals as they pushed hard to break clear. A change of momentum came when the game was stopped for several minutes as Wade Champion left the field on a stretcher after a knock to the head. Champion was able to return to the field later and provided a valuable option up forward with three goals.
This break in play seemed to interrupt the Devils’ momentum as the Roos started to fight hard to get back into the contest. They did this by hard running and a desperation not seen so far in the game from them and it ended up with goals to Sam McDonald and Chris Chubb and only a one point deficit at the first break.
The second term turned into a real arm wrestle as both sides worked hard to gain an ascendency. They tackled ferociously, harassed and spoilt each other, as the scoreboard remained tight. Both defences were on top in this term and were able to run the ball out of reach of the gaols they were defending. The result for the quarter was only three goals to the Roos and two to Hopetoun giving Walpeup Underbool a slight half time advantage. Luke Nathan was prominent in this term for the Roos and he was able to clear the ball on numerous occasions.
Deek Roberts was proving to be a handful for the Walpeup Underbool defence with his pace, his ability to read the play and his accurate kicking on goal. Coleman Schache was another who was moving well for the Hopetoun side and it was a great battle through the midfield with Luke Carr also playing a great game.
After half time the Roos got completely on top. They really came out firing in the third quarter kicking eight goals to four and skipping out to a handy break.
It was their hard tackling and desperation when the ball was in dispute that was helping the Roos get possession of the ball. They were then able to quickly get it into their forward line where they had players lining up to kick goals.
Defenders such as Jim Wakefield was able to drive the ball deep into dangerous territory by running hard off halfback. Jeremy Rowe came on the ground and straight into the Roos’ defence and wracked up plenty of possessions by roving spillages and then clearing the ball out of danger.
Chris Lynch had a great day at full back keeping the dangerous Bryce Wellington goalless. This was an invaluable result because even though the Devils kicked 18 goals, their forward line looked in disarray at times given the high number of forward entries that they had and with one more scoring shot than the Roos by the end of the day.
There was a lot to like about Hopetoun’s effort. Liam Price was playing very well and showing plenty of grit under pressure, Simon Cook was good in defence and in the ruck and when Robins was able to break clear and gaol, Hopetoun had somehow managed to edge closer just as the siren sounded to end the third term.
But with a 27 point advantage coming into the final quarter, it was going to be a long way back for the Devils. Things quickly took a turn for the worse for when the Roos scored the first two goals of the final term and the game looked to be over.
In another twist to an absorbing contest and to the Devils credit, they had one more trick up their sleeve. With Robins now playing in the centre he really showed his class and lead the Hopetoun side in a spirited comeback.
They were able to get within two goals of the Roos before Kane Munro stood up just when the Roos needed it with a terrific snap from the pocket and when Piasente kicked his seventh, the game over.
The crowd at this game got really good value for money and were kept on toes all day. The Devils play a free flowing and entertaining style of football and if they get past the knock out final next week for another crack at the might of Walpeup Underbool, few will be surprised or disappointed.