HORSHAM District league powerhouses Kalkee and Harrow-Balmoral will meet in this season’s grand final after the Kees bested Edenhope-Apsley in Saturday’s preliminary final.
A strong breeze gave both sides plenty of chances at Quantong, but in the end Kalkee was too good for too long, running out four-goal winners.
Kalkee led by 14 points after the first term in which the Saints hard plenty of the play despite going against the win.
Edenhope-Apsley was a man down after the first term with Bernie Kealy injuring his right shoulder after laying a strong tackle.
Despite that, the Saints turned the game around in the second term, thanks to a four-goal quarter from Matt Butler. Butler switched from full-back to full-forward and had an immediate impact.
The Saints hit the front but let Kalkee wrestle back control of the contest late in the second term. Late goals to Kalkee had the Kees up by nine points at the long break.
Kalkee’s Lachie Exell and Steve Schultz caused plenty of problems for the Saints defence all day. Schultz, a Kalkee veteran, finished best on for his side.
When Kalkee was out to a 17-point lead early in the third term, the Saints were almost out of it but a huge response again turned the game around.
Lachie Middleton, Jak Ryan and Butler all kicked goals to get the Saints back into the game.
Again though, Kalkee was able to capitalise on Saints errors to get out to a lead heading into the final term. Twice the Saints toed the goal square line from kick-outs, gifting Kalkee easy looks at goal.
Edenhope-Apsley fought hard in the final term but failed to overturn a four-goal deficit in a game that ebbed and flowed.
Kalkee co-coach Hamish Exell said the win was a just reward for the hard work his side has put in this season.
“It’s been a long slog. We started training in November so it’s good to see those rewards for our effort,” he said.
“We had a really good second quarter and we were able to kick a few goals going into the wind. Structuring up into the wind was a bit hard but it was about a two or three-goal breeze.”
Exell said his side had a positive attitude going into the game after losing the first final to Harrow-Balmoral.
“We were tested and down at different stages; it wasn’t free-flowing footy but we stuck at it,” he said.
“Harrow-Balmoral ran away with it in the last quarter the last couple times we played them, but we will be ready to go in the grand final, there’s no doubt about that.”
Saints coach Chris Oliver said he was proud of how his team played throughout a hugely positive season.
“We had a few unlucky things happen but in the end they played a really attacking style and it paid off for them,” he said.
“If someone said we would finish third at the start of the season, I would have taken it. Some of the guys have gone above and beyond to get their bodies right this season and they showed a lot of heart.
“We will see where the club goes next year but we have come together the best I’ve seen in my 10 years at the club.”