Five last quarter goals, including a pair from the boot of livewire Lion forward Dean Chester, enabled Redan to overcome North Ballarat City by eight points in a memorable Ballarat Football League first semi-final at Eastern Oval yesterday.
Faced with an 11-point deficit at three quarter time, the L&H Lions took their opportunities in a high pressure last quarter, while Peach’s North City didn’t, to win 13.13 (91) to 12.11 (83).
Such was the scoreboard pressure and intensity of the contest, the biggest margin throughout the match was a mere 14 points late in the final term.
The result sees the Lions still in the premiership hunt following a deflating defeat to Sunbury the week before, while ending North City’s season.
“We asked our players to be a lot more accountable which they did, so that was really pleasing,” Redan co-coach Eammon Gill said.
“Our midfield, led by Jarrod Edwards, was very good. We had to do it the hard way and, full credit to North City, it was a fantastic game of footy.”
Both teams erred on the side of caution with their injured ruckmen. Redan went into the match without Nick Bye, while North Ballarat City left out Tristan Cartledge.
For Redan, the opening minutes of the first quarter must have seemed like a replay of the previous weekend, as North City’s Michael Todd and Jake Hicks both kicked early majors to give the Northies a handy two goal lead.
But any chance of a runaway Northies first quarter was quickly stymied by majors from Redan’s Darcy Watchorn, Ash Barker, and Brenton Riordan.
In what was to be the pattern for the day, North City regained the ascendancy when Michael Todd intercepted a wayward Redan kick out of defence and brought up his second goal of the quarter, but Grant Bell replied almost immediately to lock the teams together on 27 points at quarter time.
The second quarter was primarily a battle of the backlines that wasn’t broken until North Ballarat City’s Tyler George goaled from a free kick. Then North City extended its lead to 11 points when Northies forward Michael Williams goaled from a set shot.
Redan had a run of four unanswered goals in the opening half of the third quarter, through Tom Lamb, Damien Horbury and Dean Chester.
The match swung back to North City with four in a row, including a goal from Williams from a spectacular pack mark, which saw the black and whites edge ahead by nine points at the final change.
Redan playing co-coach Brendan Peace demanded his troops go back to the basics and play one on one contested footy, while his North Ballarat City counterpart Rob Waters implored his team to stick to their structures.
Waters’ tactics brought instant results for North City at the start of the final quarter but three consecutive misses was a poor return.
That was all Redan needed as the Lions responded with four unanswered majors through the flamboyant Chester, makeshift forward Tom Lamb, and opportunistic midfielder Mitch Phelps.
As the final siren drew closer, North Ballarat City clawed their way to within less than two straight kicks with late goals to Tyler George and Jarrod Graham, but time and a staunch Redan defence halted North City’s last minute chance at glory.
“Redan are a good side and made the most of their chances,” Waters said.
“We had our chances in the last quarter, but couldn’t convert.
“We’ve got a very young team, and hopefully today’s loss will really hurt and make us more hungry for success next year.”
REDAN 13.13 (91)NORTH BALLARAT CITY 12.11 (83)