ON A picturesque Saturday at Edenhope, the sun set on Natimuk United’s season as Jeparit-Rainbow won the Horsham District league’s second elimination final.
It was clear early on in the game that the contest was going to feature two different styles of play – the Storm’s strong marking and tackling power went up against the speedy and younger Natimuk United side.
In the end, strength prevailed, although the Rams put up a worthy fight.
In both the first two quarters, Jeparit-Rainbow earned themselves two goal leads before the Rams fought back.
Whenever the Storm looked like getting away to a handy lead, Natimuk United found a way back into the game.
Natimuk United’s Jaydon Stiles and Nathan Koenig both kicked three goals each for the game and were pivotal in keeping them in the contest.
The Storm held a two-point advantage at the half-time break and at the start of the third term it was the Rams who started better.
The side was able to get on top both in the game and on the scoreboard for the first time, kicking the first two goals of the second half. However, the Storm then responded kicking three in a row.
The third quarter summed up the entire game, with the two sides trading blows.
The Storm’s Daniel Batson was prolific, ending the game with five goals, and was important in the third term as the Storm went into the final term up by four points.
An inspirational address from Natimuk United coach Sam Anson carried through the side as the Rams dominated the first 10 minutes of the last quarter. For all the side’s efforts, they could only muster up minor scores.
The Storm then enjoyed the majority of the play in the second half of the final term, striking on the scoreboard and breaking Natimuk United hearts.
The Rams scored four behinds in the final term as the Storm ran out winners 11.11 (77) to 8.12 (60).
Storm coach Tim Inkster said the Rams really tested his side.
“I was pretty confident coming into the game but every time we made a mistake they capitalised and we put ourselves under pressure,” he said.
“Things clicked for five or 10 minutes in the third quarter and then in the last quarter and we were able to score. We knew we had to win the clearances out of the middle. We didn’t have it on our terms at all and missing set shots cost us.”
Inkster said recovery would be important for his side, who finished the game without a bench.
“Tom Clugston was concussed in the first two minutes of the game and didn’t play for the rest of the game and we had two other injuries as well,” he said.
Sam Anson said it was an emotional way to finish the season after being so close to the Storm for most of the game.
“We played well in patches and I feel like we were a lot better side than that,” he said.
“We missed a lot of opportunities in the last quarter and that hurt us big time.
“They had some tall timber but we had them covered for leg speed, we just didn’t use it at times, which was frustrating.
“With the amount of injuries we had this season, it was a huge effort to get where we did. Every side has them but we were just unlucky.’
Anson paid tribute to Rams veteran Brent Marra, who announced after the siren that it was his last game for the side.
“He has had a fair bit of stuff going on off the field and football has been a good release for him and he has been great to the side,” Anson said.
Anson said he was keen to continue on with the Rams in 2019.
“I definitely want to stay – I can’t end on that note,” he said.
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