AT half-time on Sunday all the signs were pointing to another commanding Loddon Valley league finals win for Mitiamo.
Coming off a 79-point elimination final thumping of Bears Lagoon-Serpentine seven days earlier, the Superoos led Pyramid Hill by 33 points at half-time of the first semi-final at Maiden Gully.
However, there was no coasting to victory for the Superoos as Pyramid Hill launched a stirring comeback to the extent that it took a last-minute goal to Ash Benbow for Mitiamo to keep its season alive.
After the Bulldogs had stolen the lead during the final quarter, it was Benbow’s goal on the run from 30m that ultimately delivered the Superoos a win by the barest of margins – 10.17 (77) to 11.10 (76).
RELATED – LVFNL FIRST SEMI-FINALS | PHOTOS
The Superoos led 7.7 to 2.4 at half-time, but Benbow’s was one of only three goals they kicked in the second half, while the resurgent Bulldogs added nine.
“We had control of the game for the first half, but they came back at us and got a bit of momentum,” Mitiamo coach Andy Grant said.
“The boys probably took it a bit easy in the second half and they were able to catch us on the hop and were a bit quick for us in the third quarter. But to the boys’ credit they were able to get themselves back in front at the end.”
Adding to the drama after Benbow’s goal was at the following ball-up, the Superoos were penalised for having one too many players in the centre square and the Bulldogs were awarded a free kick.
The Bulldogs, who lost the game despite kicking more goals, drove the ball forward, but the siren sounded soon after – albeit with the scoreboard showing Mitiamo in front by a goal, rather than one point.
Benbow (two goals), who played off half-back, Kyle Patten and experienced on-ballers Lucas Matthews and Aaron McKean were the best for the Superoos in only the league’s third final decided by one point since 1980.
Mitiamo will now meet Maiden Gully YCW in the preliminary final next Saturday.
For the Bulldogs, who led by as many as 10 points in the last quarter, it was a straight-sets finals exit, but co-coach Gavin James – playing his 200th senior game for the club – said his young side could be proud of the way in which they fought back in the second half.
RELATED – MAROONS MARCH INTO FLAG DECIDER
“I’ve played in sides in years past where they wouldn’t have given a yelp after half-time, but I’m really proud of our young guys for digging in and having a real crack in the second half to almost win the game,” James said.
“It’s disappointing to lose such a close game, but at the start of the year if you had said we’d play two finals, we would have taken that. Lapses in games hurt us, but that’s what you get with a young side.”
Riely Thiesz, Steven Gunther and James were the best for the Bulldogs, who had key forward Nathan Fitzpatrick kick three goals.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.