Edenhope-Apsley steals four-point win over Harrow-Balmoral in elimination final thriller

EDENHOPE-APSLEY survived a thrilling four-point elimination final as Harrow-Balmoral shot itself in the foot at Quantong on Sunday.

Daniel Brody was left stranded with the ball in the centre square as the final siren ended a strange but thrilling final, which saw the Roos fail to capitalise on numerous opportunities.

The game was played at a frenetic, free-flowing pace in the first quarter.

Although Harrow-Balmoral forwards Tim Crick and Damian Van Someren presented well in the opening minutes, the difference between the sides was the Saints' ability to get deep and dangerous forward entries.

Coach Brent Forsyth found plenty of the ball, but the Roos' season-long struggle to use it effectively forward of centre was evident again.

Charlie Stewart crumbed a goal before Taylor Milner added another to get Edenhope-Apsley away to an early lead.

Dellar Family Medallist Brent Christie was forced to the bench with a tight hamstring in the first five minutes and did not return for the rest of the match.

Mick Phelan pegged one back for the Roos but they trailed by 14 at the first change.

Dave McLeish and Bart Nolan collected plenty of the ball to start the second term, while Stewart was a thorn in the Roos' side up forward.

His second set shot in as many minutes appeared touched on the line but was paid a goal despite the protestations of Scott Heath.

The goal gave the Saints a 30-10 lead and alarm bells looked set to go off in the Harrow-Balmoral camp.

It was a tackle from Larry Leeming that turned the game in the Roos' favour, and a goal from the resulting free kick put them back in it.

Daniel Brody made some important contributions on the wing and kept the ball moving forward for the Roos.

IMPORTANT: Harrow-Balmoral's Daniel Brody clashes with Saint Allan McIntyre. Brody was important for the Roos.

IMPORTANT: Harrow-Balmoral's Daniel Brody clashes with Saint Allan McIntyre. Brody was important for the Roos.

Harrow-Balmoral's problem was no longer that it could not hit forward targets, but that it could not kick straight.

Four consecutive behinds to close the quarter ensured the Saints still led by two points at the main break.

The third quarter was more akin to the first, with the ball moving from end to end.

Edenhope-Apsley started to assert its dominance again, with Tim Adams, Clissold and Cameron Domaschenz goaling early in the term.

Domaschenz was important with two goals in the quarter, and when Sam McClure threaded the needle with a big drop punt from the boundary, the Saints had a 24-point lead at three quarter time.

The Roos locked the ball in their forward line to start the last quarter, but once again could not find a way through the big sticks and missed kickable set shots.

Saint Will Middleton had a chance to put the result beyond doubt when he strolled into an open goal, but somehow missed from the top of the goal square.

The Roos took it the length of the ground for a quick goal to bring the margin back to 15, and the crowd roared back to life.

There were turnovers galore in the final few minutes, and both sides missed easy chances to convert.

Anthony Close snapped a brilliant goal and a 50-metre penalty put Luke Merryfull on the line to bring the margin back to three points.

The Saints again had an opportunity to close, but missed.

Harrow-Balmoral got a free kick in the centre but the siren rang, leaving Brody too far out to score.

Edenhope-Apsley coach Grant Coxon said his side was elated to be alive in the competition after a hard-fought game.

"They kicked themselves out of it, that's obvious, but there was a lot of pressure out there and that's just what happens," he said.

"The last half came down to a comedy of errors.

"We're going to be better for having played that game, and if they had won they would have been better for it too."

It was a sad end to the tenure of well-respected Harrow-Balmoral coach Brent Forsyth.

The reigning league co-best and fairest will depart for Queensland after two years with the Roos.

"Whoever takes over as coach next year is going to have a bit to work with," he said.

"We had our opportunities and just didn't take them, but they were errors that can be fixed.

"We've worked hard on it in the last two years and there's been gradual improvement, so hopefully that's something that keeps getting better."

Edenhope-Apsley will now face Swifts in the first semi-final on Sunday.


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