Tigers survive prelim thriller to claw their way into decider
Railways have booked their place in a second straight Great Southern Football League grand final after outlasting Mt Barker in a pulsating fourth quarter of Sunday’s preliminary final at Tigerland.
The Tigers trailed at quarter time before kicking five unanswered goals in the second to take control, but they had to withstand an almighty challenge from the Bulls in the last half.
The Bulls trimmed the margin to 22 points by three quarter time and when goals from firstly influential ruckman Daniel Henderson and then the competition’s leading goal kicker Dionne Woods, the game was well and truly alive with eight minutes to play.
The margin was single figures, nine to be exact and then lively forward target Tyson Sujdovic missed a hurried kick from close range that would have made it less than one goal the difference.
However, as the Tigers eventually got the ball from their defensive end, the hard-working Kane Shephard won a free inside attacking 50 and jailed the shot on goal to seal the Tigers memorable 14-point triumph.
Kenton Gibbs was a constant problem for the Bulls, his four goals very telling in the end while the work of youngster Kyle Smith, Jack Steel who heavily tagged Jesse Wynne along with Mitch Green and Shephard helped the home side across the line, 11.9 (75) to 9.7 (61).
The Bulls were wasteful when the second half began, scoring four behinds before a 100m penalty gave John Lee his second major of the afternoon.
The visitors at one stage in the third trailed by 34 points but led by outstanding senior figure Sam Lehmann, captain Peter Taylor and defender Lee Pavlovich they kept ralling.
Sujdovic finished with three goals but in the end the Bulls were just unable to stop the Tigers quick ball movement going forward, as their season came to an end at the preliminary final stage.
Both teams made some bold selection decisions pre-game, Lee coming back from a dislocated ankle while Kym Monteath failed to get up from a groin complaint.
The Tigers wielded the axe, dropping Trent Bradshaw, Jayden Scott, Sam Want and Michael Parker.
Henrick Alforque came into the side with great effect, helping swing the tide of the game in the second while Coen Jackman, Cyrus Upson and Liam Park were also included.
Earlier in the day Royals overcame a gallant Denmark-Walpole side by 40 points in the colts preliminary final.
The Lions led by four points at quarter time before they added three goals in the second to led by 15-points at the main change.
The game dried up with only one goal scored in the third but the Lions took a 25-point buffer into the last term.
They kicked three final term goals to the Magpies one, to come out 9.13 (67) to 3.9 (27) winners.
Dane Paunich and Tyreice Brown roamed freely all day to do the damage for the Lions.
The Bulls beat the Tigers in the sixteens to progress to the grand final, 7.8 (50) to 5.7 (37).
In the reserves the Tigers turned the tables, making it through to the decider after downing the Bulls 9.10 (64) to 4.4 (28).
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