A DOMINANT fourth quarter performance has ensured Harrow-Balmoral will feature in its third consecutive Horsham District league grand final.
With on and off rain during Saturday’s game at Natimuk, the first quarter was a scrappy one as neither side was able to settle on the football.
Harrow-Balmoral found its feet in the closing stages of the first term, scoring four goals in a row while keeping the Kees goalless.
The Southern Roos were dealt a blow, with key forward Simon Close suffering what looked to be a knee injury in the first term. He sat out the rest of the game.
With a slight breeze, all the goals in the first half were scored down the one end, as Kalkee scored three goals in the second term to get back into the game.
Kalkee found a way to score against the breeze in the third term but again Harrow-Balmoral scored late and held a 20-point lead heading into the final term.
Kicking towards the scoring end in the last term, Kalkee would have felt the 20-point lead to be within reach, but Harrow-Balmoral was rampant.
Southern Roo tall forward James Staude was unplayable in the final term, taking contested marks and kicking a couple of big goals.
Harrow-Balmoral kicked five goals in the space of roughly 10 minutes to book itself a spot in the grand final in two weeks. Kalkee could only manage one behind in a disappointing last term, with Harrow-Balmoral kicking 6.3.
The final scoreline was 15.11 (101) to 6.7 (43).
Southern Roos coach Nick Pekin said his side showed a lot of character to grind out the win and bury the Kees in the final term. The side did it without Simon Close, while Pekin was far from his best.
“The way the boys finished was really character building; it gives us huge belief that we can run out games,” Pekin said.
“I thought we were fairly average in the first half. The conditions weren’t great but they just came out and wanted it more.”
Pekin praised the efforts of James Staude, who was named best on ground with a game-high six majors.
“I thought that was Jimmy’s best game for the year, personally, I reckon he might have had two opponents at some stages,” he said.
Pekin said he was unsure at this stage what Simon Close had done to his leg.
“We will know the extent of his injury moving forward and we will adjust our game plan to suit, but we have young Hamish McCrae who can fill a spot there and other blokes too who are pretty versatile,” he said.
After losing two consecutive grand finals, Pekin said the players who had featured in those games would set the tone across the following two weeks.
“My assistant Hamish Ellis has lost five grand finals, and he doesn’t want to lose another one. You need to have those guys to help blood the juniors going into their first grand final,” he said.
Kalkee co-coach Stuart Farr said his side dropped off in crucial moments throughout the game.
“They scored most of their goals in the last five minutes of the first and third quarters,” he said.
“We were back to within a few points and then they kicked some late goals in the third term, and that was costly. We started to zone off and guessed where the ball was.”
Farr said there were still some positives to take away.
“We have earned the double chance and we will take it and use it and go back on the track this week,” he said.
“We played three really good quarters and one really disappointing one. We will reload and hopefully get another crack at them.”