MARONG today made a triumphant return to the Loddon Valley Football League finals, keeping its season alive with a brutal performance against Newbridge.
The Panthers crushed the Maroons by 73 points in the elimination final, winning 13.12 (90) to 2.5 (17) at Pyramid Hill.
The Panthers strangled the Maroons defensively, only conceding seven scoring shots for the game in what was their first final since 2009.
“It was a tough day with the wind today, but we were able to get the job done, which was very pleasing,” Marong coach Corey Gregg said.
“We had a really good four quarter performance... everyone played their role and we didn’t have any passengers, which is what we were after.”
The Panthers held the Maroons scoreless in the first term as they led by 22 points at quarter-time, before adding three goals to one against the breeze in the second term to take a stranglehold on the contest.
“Our second quarter where we were able to kick those few goals against the wind was where it opened up for us,” Gregg said.
The Panthers led by 34 points at half-time, before finishing with seven goals to one after the main break.
Just as they did in the first quarter, the Panthers held Newbridge scoreless in the third term.
“It was a real feather in the cap for our defenders today,” Gregg said.
“They worked hard all day, and I thought our midfield’s workrate was fantastic.
“Newbridge didn’t get the delivery into their forward line that they would have liked and that made it hard for them.”
The best player for the Panthers was consistent defender Marcus Ferrier.
“He was fantastic and is in really good form at the moment,” said Gregg, who kicked two goals.
“He doesn’t get beaten and uses the ball well.”
Among the duels during the game was Marong’s Thomas Kirby running with Newbridge playmaker Tyson Holt.
The Panthers were happy with the job of Kirby, while Holt also figured in the Maroons’ best players.
Ben Gregg returned to the side to kick four goals for the Panthers, experienced onballer Lee Franklin was also prominent, while wingman Callum Wiliamson kicked three goals in his first senior final.
The Panthers meet Pyramid Hill in next Sunday’s first semi-final, while after making last year’s grand final, Newbridge has fallen at the first hurdle.
“It was a tough day today... they were far too good for us all over the ground,” Newbridge coach Brad Comer said.
“They moved the footy well in the tough conditions.
“It’s disappointing the way it ended today, but we fought the game out until the end.”
The Maroons’ best were ruckman-forward Justin McEwan, Jarrod Postle, who held Bryan Vance to one goal, Holt and Bodee Scullie.
Newbridge’s two goals were kicked by Chris Dixon and David Carroll.