THE spectre of another Redan premiership looms large after the Lions cruised into the grand final at the expense of East Point.
After weathering a frantic opening term in the Red Onion Ballarat Football League preliminary final, which saw the L&H Lions outscored seven goals to six, the Redan juggernaut rolled over the top of the Red Lion Kangaroos, 23.10 (148) to 15.10 (100) at Eastern Oval on Saturday.
The victory sets up the fifth Sunbury versus Redan grand final in the past 11 years.
East Point entered the match minus pivotal midfielders Jason Delaney and Sam Cooper, both out with leg injures, along with key marking target Brad Whittaker.
The Kangaroos threw up another early surprise with playing coach and usual key forward Dan Jordan playing across half-back on Leigh Ryall, as East Point tried some innovative ideas to unsettle the Lions. The unconventional tactics appeared to work too as the opening term was a free-flowing, and free-scoring uncontested game that benefited the Kangaroos’ fast legs. After 13 first-quarter goals between the two teams, East Point led by five points.
The frantic pace could not be maintained, however. As the game slowed down it gradually turned in Redan’s favour. Grant Bell kicked three of Redan’s six for the quarter, and the Lions edged 16 points clear.
If the writing was on the wall at that point, it was then etched in for the Roos with further injuries to Alex Bartlett (concussion) and Matthew Bilton (hip). The Lions took advantage with a further six goals to three (four this time to Damien Horbury) in the third quarter to establish what was to prove a match-winning advantage.
The final term was more even than Redan’s five goals to two would suggest. The Lions tuned up for a grand final appearance, while the gallant Roos wasted chances to score in their desperation to get things moving. Jordan scored two late goals – one from a rare Redan defensive error – to ensure the margin did not balloon out to 10 goals.
“It was a bit too much of a shoot out in the first half and we were far too loose early,” Redan playing coach Brendan Peace said.
“Perhaps a few guys got ahead of themselves, thinking that it would be all too easy with the guys East Point had out injured. The way East Point has been this year it was never going to be that easy.
“We were able to tighten it up in the second half. Hopefully we will take how we played in the second half into next week.”
Importantly Redan got through the match unscathed, which is hardly surprising given the minimal contact during much of the game, although Nathan Horbury will likely be nursing a sore head after a collision. Jarrod Edwards was a clear best on ground, Peace was an effective foil for Edwards through the middle, and the forward triumvirate of Bell, Damien Horbury and Dean Chester contributed 15 goals between them.
With the absence of important experienced players, Jordan admitted his team needed a bit of luck to challenge Redan.
“We had a good crack at it but when Bilton and Bartlett went down we were always in trouble,” Jordan said. “In the end we weren’t good enough and Redan is a great side.
“We changed our structures to not be so predictable, and Brad Dreher finished with four goals for us. You have to try things.
“Skill errors hurt us. We trained all week to go out and take some risks and sometimes that can lead to turnovers.
“I’m proud of where the boys have come from. Bar a couple of injuries late in the year we were right in it.”
Paul Koderenko had the better of the ruck duels, Dreher and David Brady gave the East Point onballers something to aim at, while Daniel Tung and Hayden Walters were good contibutors.
Meanwhile, Lake Wendouree will contest its sixth Ballarat Football Netball League grand final in a row after defeating old sparring partner East Point by just one goal in Saturday’s preliminary final.
In a see-sawing contest, which East Point led by one goal at three-quarter-time, the Sectrol Lakers found something extra in the final term to lead by three goals with minutes remaining. The Red Lion Kangaroos scored the last two goals of the match but fell agonisingly short against their bogey team.
The largest lead during the match was about six goals to Lake Wendouree midway through the second quarter. East Point rallied in the third quarter and took a useful lead early in the final quarter.
But the Lakers’ finals experience shone through in the end.
Lake Wendouree will now chart somewhat unfamiliar territory in next weekend’s BFL netball grand final against this season’s surprise packet, Melton. The Metricon Bloods won the second final a week ago against the Lakers by three goals.