Premiers punish slow-start Bulls
For the second season in a row, Mt Barker’s season has come to an end at the preliminary final, this time failing to reel in North Albany after the defending premiers kicked five goals in a dominant opening term.
The Bulls’ hopes of reaching a second grand final in three seasons took a hit when young gun Joel Gray (knee) and veteran Ryan Ballard (hand) were both ruled out of the preliminary final through injury.
The visitors kicked into a stiff wind in the opening term but they were unable to stop the Kangas’ run and spread from stoppages and the home side’s 18 inside-50 entries resulted in five goals.
The Bulls had conceded only two majors for most of the first term but a hanger from Michael Trevenen led to a Jack McPhee goal and then red-time goals from Stuart Parker and Graham Ross gave the Kangas a significant advantage.
Ruckman Daniel Henderson and grunt midfielder Darren Humble tried desperately to haul their side back into the contest and veteran Dionne Woods booted four of his five majors in the second half but their side fell 23 points short — the same margin by which they lost to Royals in last season’s preliminary final.
It was the fourth time this season the Bulls had lost to the Kangas, with coach Brad Hook conceding their slow start made things difficult for the rest of the afternoon.
“I think a fair bit of it against North Albany is mental — we never seem to start well against them,” Hook said.
“If we could have pulled them back a bit in the first and then been sort of even at half-time we were a chance but every time it got back to 20 points they’d get a couple more.
“Until the last 10 minutes of the last we were always hopeful but we couldn’t get the inside 50s that we wanted. All year we’ve probably been the third-best team and the best side won today.
“Its been a great year for our club, three grades in finals and seven colts play league footy and I’ve really enjoyed this year coaching.”
The Kangas won the inside-50 count, 53-42, and had 13 entries to seven in the final term.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails