VFL: North Ballarat Roosters storm home over Geelong

Michael Searl tries to get one away.

Michael Searl tries to get one away.

THERE is another twist in North Ballarat Roosters’ finals bid.

Selkirk Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald had calculated most of this season that 10 wins would be enough to make Victorian Football League finals.

Evenness in the competition has prevailed, but it seems the Roosters’ 10th win, a 17-point victory against Geelong, has might offer up that coveted top-eight spot.

The Cats are two games behind the now fifth-ranked Roosters with two rounds to play.

And what a two games the Roosters have ahead in third-ranked Williamstown and ladder leader Port Melbourne - both long-time nemeses.

“This game is ours. Finals are ours,” were FitzGerald’s parting words to fire up his players at the final break.

But the Cats were just as spirited and the Roosters really had to scratch their way ahead.

“That’s the thing I admire about Geelong in the VFL,” FitzGerald said.

“Geelong develops its (AFL listed) players in the positions and roles they were recruited to play, but they’re also coached and developed in winning habits.

“The first thing Geelong wants to do is beat you - it is an AFL team that wants its VFL team to win just as much.”

Geelong pummelled the Roosters in a five-goal to one opening term.

The Roosters fought back, grabbed the lead with a trademark Lachie George booming kick late in the second, and held the Cats goal-less from that first break until 18 minutes into the third quarter.

The Cats pinched the lead almost nine minutes into the final term.

Mitch Wilkins’ quick snap from a clearance before the goal face gave the Roosters the edge at the 18-minute mark.

A splayed free kick from Cat Brad Hartman deep in the term offered the Roosters a bit of luck.

The Roosters seized their chance, went coast-to-coast and Nick Couch booted an extra goal buffer for an 11-point lead at the 30-minute-mark.

Wilkins kicked a goal as the siren sounded - his third major for the quarter.

There was added drama early in the third quarter when North Melbourne star midfielder Daniel Wells sustained a heavy knock to his leg from Cats’ skipper Dom Gleeson in the contest.

Wells limped off the ground and went straight to the rooms for assessment. He did not return.

The Cats had their own injury woes with ruckman Dawson Simpson sidelined from early in the second quarter, leaving former North Ballarat Rebel Matthew Sully and rookie Josh Walker to battle Eric Wallace’s might.

Rooster Lachie George was the clear standout in skill and generating excitement among his teammates. 

His efforts were recognised with the Federation University Australia best on ground medal in the rivalry match.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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