GOLDEN Square will play in its fifth straight BFNL grand final after it defeated Gisborne by 36 points in Saturday night’s second semi-final at the QEO.
Chasing a fourth-straight flag, Golden Square overcame the late withdrawal of star midfielders Simon Rosa and Luke Hammond to outplay its arch-rival, 17.15 (117) to 12.9 (81).
“When we found out Simon and Hammo weren’t playing the guys didn’t drop their bundle and everyone stepped up,’’ an elated Square coach Mark Lloyd said.
“Our young guys played really well... it was a very pleasing win considering Gisborne have been the best side all year and they were primed to play well after having the week off.
“It was probably the best four-quarter performance we’ve had all year.”
The man behind the win was full-forward Grant Weeks.
The 24-year-old kicked 8.7, pulled in 12 marks and gave off three goals in yet another best on ground performance.
Weeks has now kicked 160 goals for the season and needs four goals in the grand final to break Frank Crapper’s BFNL goalkicking record of 163.
“Weeksy relished the open spaces of the QEO and probably could have kicked a few more,’’ Lloyd said.
“He’s just had a super year.”
One of the key factors in Square’s win was the return to form of Weeks’ partner in crime Matt O’Toole.
The 34-year-old wound back the clock with a vintage performance across half-forward.
Another veteran, Jason Griffin, also played a major role across half-forward and in the middle.
Underrated midfielder Dale Lowry was superb in the clinches and 18-year-old Comanche Walls showed he has the potential to be a star of the competition in the future.
The week off couldn’t come at a better time for Square, with Rosa (groin), Hammond (foot), Jack Geary (finger) and Chris Malone (hamstring) to benefit from the extra rest.
Gisborne now faces a rampant Strathfieldsaye Storm in the preliminary final.
“Golden Square didn’t allow us to play our game,’’ Gisborne coach Luke Saunders said.
“We were disappointing and Square were too good. They are a very good football side.”
Saunders said key defenders Heath Simpson and Anthony Belcher lacked support in their battles with Weeks and O’Toole respectively.
“Weeks is a superstar, but when we allow Square to bring the ball in that like it puts even more pressure on Simpson,’’ Saunders said.
“We let ourselves down by not putting enough pressure on Square’s midfield.”
Gisborne has issues forward of centre, with Darren Farrugia (five goals) the only player to threaten Square’s defence.
Square full-back Dale Young took care of key forward Matt Knox and Jarrad Lynch was well held by Sam Wilkie.
Saunders is expecting his side to bounce back against the Storm.
“We’re a proud group... we’ve got to get our mind back on the job,’’ he said.
“A week is a long time in football.”