Storm savour gritty finals win over Dogs

BEST ON GROUND: Strathfieldsaye's Kallen Geary after laying a tackle on Golden Square youngster Bailey George. Picture: NONI HYETT

BEST ON GROUND: Strathfieldsaye's Kallen Geary after laying a tackle on Golden Square youngster Bailey George. Picture: NONI HYETT

In big matches when the game is on the line, the cream usually rises to the top.

On Saturday night at three-quarter-time of the BFNL qualifying final, the highly-fancied Strathfieldsaye Storm looked vulnerable.

The three-quarter-time siren had saved them from slipping two goals behind Golden Square in a low-scoring scrap. Square’s Tom Toma was about to run into an open goal when the siren sounded.

The Storm needed to find a spark from somewhere. Enter Kallen Geary.

WELL DONE: Strathfieldsaye players celebrate a Trent Donnan goal in the final quarter. Picture: NONI HYETT

WELL DONE: Strathfieldsaye players celebrate a Trent Donnan goal in the final quarter. Picture: NONI HYETT

After spending most of the first three quarters across half-back, Geary was released forward for the crucial final quarter and it paid dividends.

Inside the first 90 seconds of the final term he marked and goaled to level the scores.

Geary had a hand in another Storm goal and instantly added some much-needed vibrance to Strathfieldsaye’s forward half.

Strathfieldsaye went on to dominate possession in the final quarter and defeat a gallant Golden Square 9.19 (73) to 10.4 (64).

“It was a gamble (to move Geary forward) because he’d been really good off half-back,’’ Storm coach Darryl Wilson said.

“It worked. His last quarter was very good. I really think he’s a class above this footy. He can do anything.”

Geary’s class across the four quarters stood out on a night where defence dominated.

The Storm and Dogs are renowned for their high-pressure, defensive zones and they both had trouble moving the ball inside forward 50 efficiently.

The Storm won the general field battle and had significantly more inside 50s, but Square’s defence held up strongly and forced them into difficult shots at goal.

“Square had beaten us twice this season and they always match up well against us, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,’’ Wilson said.

“The pressure from both teams was good and, that’s what happens in these games, they are different (to home and away matches).

“We could have used the ball better going inside 50 and we missed a few shots, but our final quarter was excellent.”

The Storm restricted Square to 1.1 in the final quarter. The Bulldogs struggled to force the ball past the centre as the Storm forwards and midfielders worked hard to lock the ball in.

Wilson was delighted with the performance of young ruckman Harry Crone, while Sam Heavyside, Sam Simmons, Jake Moorhead and Harry Conway had a strong impact on the game.

Midfielder duo Shannon Geary and Josh Formosa were late omissions for Storm.  Wilson said Geary would return for the second semi-final clash with Eaglehawk at the QEO next Saturday night, but Formosa was in doubt after being taken to hospital with kidney stones.

“Overall, we’re happy to get through that game and now we can look forward to Eaglehawk,’’ Wilson added.

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