Depth the difference for Storm

UP AND ABOUT: Strathfieldsaye teenager Lachlan Wallace climbs high to take a mark in the second quarter of Saturday's preliminary final. Picture: DARREN HOWE
UP AND ABOUT: Strathfieldsaye teenager Lachlan Wallace climbs high to take a mark in the second quarter of Saturday's preliminary final. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The two best teams of the home and away season will meet in the BFNL grand final.

Minor premier Eaglehawk will face second-placed Strathfieldsaye after the Storm defeated Golden Square by 16 points in Saturday’s preliminary final.

Much like the qualifying final clash between the two teams a fortnight earlier, it was hardly a game for football purists, but all that mattered to the Storm was they were in front when the siren sounded.

CRUNCH: Golden Square skipper Jack Geary is tackled by Strathfieldsaye midfielder Sam Heavyside. Picture: DARREN HOWE

CRUNCH: Golden Square skipper Jack Geary is tackled by Strathfieldsaye midfielder Sam Heavyside. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The 10.17 (77) to 9.7 (61) scoreline in the end flattered a Golden Square side that threw everything at the Storm in the first half, but ran out of gas in the second half.

“It was a great effort,’’ Storm coach Darryl Wilson said.

“We’re very happy as a club to have all three teams in grand finals, but it will count for little if we don’t win a major prize next week.

“Hopefully, we’re up and about.”

The only negative for the Storm on Saturday was an injury to running defender Caillum Brady.

“He’s hurt his hip flexor, so it’s going to be hard for him to be fit for the grand final,’’ Wilson conceded. “We’ll give him every chance, but it’s not looking good.”

Tom Dowd (ankle) and Sam Simmons (ankle) both missed the preliminary final, but both should be fit for the grand final.

The Storm didn’t get it all their own way in the preliminary final.

The Bulldogs looked the better side for the first quarter-and-a-half and at one stage led by as many as 17 points.

The longer the game went the better the Storm looked and their greater depth played a big part in the victory.

Without Travis Baird inside forward 50, Square’s forward line lacked potency and structure and the Storm’s back six took advantage.

The Bulldogs had six goals on the board by the 10-minute mark of the second term, but only managed three more for the rest of the match.

Storm key defender Jayden Donaldson was outstanding. He controlled the game after half-time, with his intercept marks and reading of the play constantly thwarting Square’s forward thrusts.

While Square’s forward line disintegrated, the Storm looked much more dangerous.

Ron Best Medal winner Lachlan Sharp kicked five goals and gave off a couple of others. Harry Conway was a constant marking threat and teenager Lachlan Wallace bobbed up with some big plays inside 50, including a big pack mark and goal and some strong tackling pressure.

One of the key differences between the two teams was the Storm had more contributors across the board.

 “It was hard for us to pick our best players,’’ Wilson said. “When you have 10 better players on the day you’re going alright.”

Hamish Morcom was Square’s most dangerous player. He kicked three goals and was the only Bulldog who looked like taking a mark inside forward 50.

Skipper Jack Geary tried hard all day, while his midfield partner in crime Adam Baird spent most of the day forward after going into the game with a rib injury.

“We took the game up to them and scored well for the first quarter-and-a-half, but we weren’t able to maintain it,’’ Golden Square coach Bernie Haberman said.

“Strath were good enough to stop us and we were probably a bit cooked in the end.

“We were beaten up after last week and it caught up with us in the end.  They probably should have won by more in the end.

“We were resilient because we kept hanging in there. We kicked the first goal of the last quarter to get within five points, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but I’m certainly not displeased with the effort.”