Bears win qualifying final by a goal

BEARS Lagoon-Serpentine held off a last-quarter charge from Pyramid Hill to win Saturday’s Loddon Valley Football League qualifying final by a goal.

The Bears led by 26 points at three quarter-time, at which stage the Bulldogs had kicked just five goals.

However, the Bulldogs added seven goals in the last quarter, but left their run too late as the Bears’ four last-term goals were enough to keep them in front as they won 13.13 (91) to 12.13 (85) at Backhaus Oval.

“It was a fluctuating game all day in terms of the skill level... it probably wasn’t a brilliant game to watch and a bit scrappy at stages,” Bears coach Damien Featherby said.

“But in finals all you need to do is get wins and we got that today.”

The Bears led by three points at quarter-time, 3.2 to 2.5, against a Bulldogs’ side that squandered opportunities early.

“They played the better footy in the first 15 minutes of the game, but couldn’t hit the scoreboard,” Featherby said.

“After that, we probably played the better footy for the best part of two-and-a-half quarters, but we also missed chances.

“It was one of those days where the breeze blew across the ground and that’s probably why we missed a few shots you’d hope to kick from 35 to 40m out.”

The Bears kicked 6.9 to 3.4 during the middle two quarters to set up the 26-point lead going into the final term.

The best for the Bears was centre half-back Andrew Gladman.

Midfielder Gareth Bowes, who also pushed forward to kick three goals, Tom Cartledge off half-back, forward Cody Gunn (three goals), the pacy Jye Sandiford and ruckman Brodie Leonard-Shannon were also among the best players.

Justin Wilson kicked four goals in his midfield/resting forward role for the Bears, who now take on the undefeated Bridgewater in next Saturday’s second semi-final.

Pyramid Hill coach Paul Grayling was disappointed his side dropped off in the second term when the Bears kicked four goals to one.

“We started well enough, but our second quarter was very ordinary,” Grayling said.

“They started winning the contested footy a bit better, and when they do that their outside players really hurt you.

“We wasted a lot of opportunities, but we never felt we were out of the game.”

Classy midfielder Gavin James led the Bulldogs’ better players, along with centre half-forward Sam Kennedy, rover Bryden Morison and ruckman Balraj Singh.

Grayling kicked five goals and Troy Parker added three.

Saturday was the second tight qualifying final the Bulldogs had lost in as many years after losing to Bridgewater in extra time last season.

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