Kangas lift in final term to secure home final

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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North Albany strengthened their claims for a fourth straight premiership after finishing on top of the Great Southern Football League ladder following a drama-filled 20-point win over Royals at Collingwood Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Kangas were in a three-way fight with the Lions and Mt Barker for the top-two spots and the finals double chance but it took an inspired final term to register their 11th win of the season and secure the minor premiership.

The Lions started the round 15 fixture applying fierce pressure and tackling as first-quarter goals to Michael McGlade and Tyron Smallwood had their side ahead by 15 points.

With the breeze favouring the Kangas’ end in the second term, the defending premiers responded with four unanswered goals, including two from captain Graham Ross, as they wrested back the advantage.

North Albany's Alec Haskins goes the spoil against Royals' Cent Amores.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Alec Haskins goes the spoil against Royals' Cent Amores. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The two sides had eight inside-50 entries apiece in the third stanza but the Lions kicked the last three goals to level the scores at the final change.

Kangas livewire Jesse Wynne came to life in the final quarter as he conjured two brilliant goals to push the margin to 13 points before Ross ensured the result with his third of the game.

Jack McPhee was simply superb in the 8.11 (59) to 5.9 (39) win, dominating around the stoppages, while Wynne, Ross and Ray Padfield provided great support.

After the game there was conjecture about the final result, with the Kangas playing Stef Ericson, who was not listed on the official team sheet, but the GSFL will fine the club under the league by-laws.

North Albany's Graham Ross kicks as Royals' Jaxon Nottle moves in.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Graham Ross kicks as Royals' Jaxon Nottle moves in. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Kangas coach Craig Dew was pleased his club earned the right to host the second semifinal but was not happy with some aspects of the win.

“I was disappointed with our game,” Dew said.

“We couldn’t get our hands on the ball, we didn’t bring the same intent as previous weeks and I thought we had a whole lot of passengers.

“We need to address a few things and do our homework, because they got their match-ups right.

“Credit to our backline — without them we would have been further behind early on.”

Royals' Jaxon Nottle is taken to ground by North Albany's Grant Corcoran.
Camera IconRoyals' Jaxon Nottle is taken to ground by North Albany's Grant Corcoran. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The Lions’ loss was compounded by injuries to in-form defen-der Corey Ward and tall forward Peter Mark, who both failed to finish the game and are in doubt for this Saturday’s second semifinal.

Ward was given the task on Wynne but was out of the game before half-time with a calf complaint, while Mark was clutching a hamstring in the second half.

Michael McGlade led the way for the Lions along with Tyron Smallwood, while Lochy Jones negated Kangas ball-winner Matt Orzel and Rory Callaghan kept Luke Cameron in check.

Lions coach James McRae said his side would take some confidence from the loss heading into a final against the same opponents this week.

North Albany's Jesse Wynne and Royals' Corey Ward contest possession.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Jesse Wynne and Royals' Corey Ward contest possession. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“These injuries couldn’t come at a worse time, especially with Dave Parker in the shed as well,” he said.

“Parker, Wardy and Mark are all very important for us.

“We didn’t capitalise in the first half but I thought we were right in it up until the end.

“There is a lot of improvement left in us and we get out of the loss with a degree of confidence.”

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