TWELVE goals between key forwards Paul Grayling and Sam Kennedy helped keep Pyramid Hill’s Loddon Valley Football League season alive today.
The Bulldogs kicked away from Marong in the second half of the first semi-final to win by 36 points, 17.9 (111) to 11.9 (75), at Calivil.
After an arm-wrestle in which Pyramid Hill led by five points at half-time, 6.5 to 5.6, the Bulldogs added 11 goals to six after the break to advance to the preliminary final against Bears Lagoon-Serpentine.
Grayling showed why he arrived in the league with massive wraps on him by bagging eight goals in a best-on-ground performance, while centre half-forward Kennedy kicked four goals.
“Their big forwards took their toll on us in the end and we just didn’t have enough blokes to go with them,” Marong coach Corey Gregg said.
“Grayling kicked eight goals and there wasn’t much we could do to stop him... he was awesome today.
“I thought we matched them well around the ground, but it was their big forwards that were the difference.”
The game opened up for the Bulldogs during the third quarter when they kicked six goals to three to lead by 23 points at the final change, before they finished with five goals to three in the last term.
“Rarely can you blow a side away early in finals and you’ve got to really grind away at it,” Bulldogs coach Grayling said.
“Marong had a real crack today and it certainly wasn’t an easy game, but we knew if we stuck to our structures and did what was required, we’d be able to go on and get the job done.
“The boys all played their role and did what was asked, so it was a pleasing result.
“We like to play a high-pressure style of game and not let the opposition dictate terms and it eventually wore them down.”
Along with their fierce pressure on the Panthers, the Bulldogs were efficient inside 50, kicking 17 goals from 26 scoring shots.
As well as forwards Grayling and Kennedy, other standouts for the Bulldogs were tough onballer Nathan Fitzgerald (two goals), ruckman Balraj Singh and defender Dylan Morison.
This weekend against the Bears will be the sixth preliminary final in a row the Bulldogs have played in.
Gregg said while disappointed to be beaten today, the Panthers could look back on 2013 as a major step forward for the club as it returned to the finals for the first time since 2009.
“I said to the boys after the game that we’re improving, but that ultimate goal doesn’t just happen overnight... you’ve got to build,” Gregg said.
“We’re building and if we can keep the group together and add a few players to take the next step, I definitely believe the club is heading in the right direction.
“It’s disappointing to lose today, but we’re proud after where we’ve come from.”
Back pocket Marcus Ferrier, Thomas Kirby, who ran with Bulldogs’ star Gavin James, ruckman Paul Thomson and Gregg were the Panthers’ best players.