BUNGAREE blitzed Buninyong to book its place in a third-straight preliminary final on Saturday.
The Demons’ forwards fired in a 73-point thrashing of the Bombers, which are now out of the Central Highlands Football League premiership race.
Luke Mirtschin (four goals), Shaun Finlayson (three goals), Chris O’Keefe (three goals) and Tom Wilson (three goals) controlled the show in attack as Bungaree put the foot down after quarter-time to record a devastating semi-final win.
Bungaree led the clash at Learmonth by 10 points at the first change and kicked the only five goals of the second term to take a commanding 38-point advantage into half-time.
Emotions reached boiling point when players from both teams became involved in a scrap after the siren, which also raised tempers in the crowd during the break. There were no reports from the melee, but there was at least one scuffle between supporters from opposing camps.
This failed to shake the Demons, with coach Greg Middleton’s men refusing the Bombers a passage back into the match. The minor premier held the momentum in the third quarter and greeted the final change 45 points clear, before kicking away with six goals in the last term.
Middleton said his team was able to withstand the Bombers’ early pressure and was pleased with the widespread of contributors across four quarters.
“I don’t think (our season) was ever not on track, it was just a matter of us playing our better footy and understanding that we need everybody contributing to get the desired performance we want and we did that today,” Middleton said after the match.
“To the boys’ credit, they sort of took it upon themselves a little bit this week. They got together and spoke about things. Just about why we are playing footy, why we are here, where we have come from and what we want to do.”
Middleton said his team remained level-headed after the victory and ahead of next Saturday’s preliminary final against Gordon.
“We were pretty clear after the game not to get ahead of ourselves because we have been here the last two years, obviously, and we know how hard it is to win a preliminary final and what you are going to come up against. Gordon are the in-form side, they have won their last 14 and are tearing sides apart.
“It’s a huge challenge again for us, but that’s what you expect in a preliminary final – the best four sides.”
While the forwards ran riot for Bungaree, midfielders Joel Mahar and Matthew Sheridan had good games, David Benson toiled hard in the ruck and Mitch Bruns was great off half-back until he sustained what looked to be a serious hamstring strain early in the third term.
Buninyong coach Jarrod Morgan, who was one of the Bombers’ best, said despite the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat, he was extremely proud of where the group had come from at the start of the season.
“We internally still thought we could give it a shake and I think everyone around the league was still scared of what we could do, but (Bungaree) was just too good for us today,” Morgan said after the match.
“We fell away in a lot of things and some guys had down days, but that happens.”
Buninyong was well served by Tyler Dittloff during stints in the middle and down back, Josh Renga in defence and Ned Gilbert around the ground, while Jarrod Rodgers was dangerous in the opening term before he succumbed to an ongoing ankle injury and had minimal impact as the day wore on.