SEALER: Nirranda’s Jesse Dalton kicked his second goal in the dying stages of Sunday’s elimination final to secure a win over Merrivale. Picture: Amy Paton
NIRRANDA will head into next Sunday’s knockout semi-final against Kolora-Noorat undaunted.
The Blues showed they are a force to be reckoned with this Warrnambool and District finals series, bumping off last year’s runner-up Merrivale 10.12 (72) to 9.2 (56) at Noorat on Sunday.
Theywaylaid a gentle re-introductionto finals football, instead putting the challenge before the Tigers from the first bounce as they built their way to a commanding 27-point lead by halftime.
But Merrivale arrested the Blues’ momentum in the third quarter and threatened to steal a win withan inspired final stanza.
They slashedthe deficit to nine points, but the Blues held strong, with a late goal from Jesse Dalton sealing the win.
Blues coach Shane Threlfall said the wet, boggy conditions worked in his side’s favour.
Nirranda assistant coach Nathan Couch“We’re probably a bit stronger bodied, so these conditions suited us,” he said.
“They (Merrivale) are quick and skillful, and it’s probably brought them back to our pace a bit.
“It was just really good to get some scoreboard pressure early;particularly in these conditions it was good to get a break.
“As Merrivale showed in that last quarter, we needed that break. They came home hard.”
The win came just eight days after Merrivale defeated Nirranda in the last round of the home and away season, and was the Blues’ first final appearance since 1999.
Gary Robinson looked dangerous all day in the Blues’ forward line and finished with four majors, while Jason Lee (one goal) created enormous forward pressure to set up opportunities for his teammates.
JOY: Nirranda players celebrate a goal late in the elimination final. Picture: Amy Paton
Defenders John Paulin and Mathew Lloyd got Nirranda going at the other end of the ground, repelling Merrivale’s attacks, while midfielder Jack Spokes was pivotal in getting the Blues rolling for their strong start.
Threlfall was pleased with how his players adapted to finals football and was looking forward to seeing what they produce against the Power.
“Iwas really proud of the way they settled early because it could have easily been overwhelming for them, but they settled really well and played some really good footy early,” he said.
“If we can switch on early in finals, that will hold us in good stead. But (it will be) new opposition, probably different conditions, so everyone is back level pegging again next week.”
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