Montmorency cemented its place in the Northern Football/Netball League Division 1 finals after surviving a scare from Para Road rival Lower Plenty after a 14-point win.
The 13.14 (92) to 11.12 (78) victory at Montmorency Park North Oval locked the Magpies into fifth spot and secured a finals berth for the first time since 2014. They will now face West Preston-Lakeside in an elimination final at Preston City Oval.
Lower Plenty suffered its ninth-straight loss to end its season with a 2-16 record. The last place means the Bears will be relegated to Division 2 in 2020, however they were competitive right throughout the season.
Captain Jesse Donaldson was Montmorency’s best player in the win, capping off his stellar season. Donaldson had a superb game in the midfield, with his clearance work, a goal and some great tackles the highlights of his game.Advertisement
Patrick Fitzgerald and Stephen McCallum proved to be a dominant duo in the forward line and finished with ten goals between them.
Fitzgerald kicked six majors and was a lethal target all day, taking multiple leading and contested marks. McCallum kicked four goals and was rewarded for his forward pressure.
Despite the loss, Tom Keys had a phenomenal game in the midfield for Lower Plenty. Keys was all class and won a substantial amount of clearances out of the centre and at the stoppages. He showed his strength with countless fend offs and shrugged tackles.
Tom Blake dominated the ruck battle all day for the Bears, giving silver platter service to his midfielders. Blake capped off a stellar season by being named in Lower Plenty’s best players for the 15th time.
Corey Sleep played a solid game. He regularly found the football around the ground and was a lively prospect up forward – taking some good marks and finishing with two majors.
Montmorency got off to a great start and took a 24-point lead into the first break after booting six goals to two in the opening term.
The second quarter was a much more even contest, with both teams kicking three goals.
Fitzgerald opened the second quarter with a great goal from outside 50 metres. His effort was followed by another goal by McCullum, which gave Montmorency a six-goal lead and it was starting to look like the game would be a blowout.
However, goals from Corey Sleep and one from Ben Paterson gave the visitors some hope going into half time and cut the deficit to 25 points.
It was in the third quarter that saw Lower Plenty give Montmorency a real scare.Advertisement
The Bears kicked four consecutive goals to level the scores and it looked like a repeat of Round 1 was on the cards – where the Bears came from seven goals behind to win by 36 points.
With its finals hopes slipping from its grasp, Montmorency managed to kick a goal late in the quarter to take an 8-point lead into the final break.
Josh Turner opened the final quarter with a goal to bring Lower Plenty back within two points, with the game looking set for a nail-biting finish.
However, Montmorency was able to steady when the game was on the line.
The Magpies went on to kick multiple goals, including a great set shot goal from Josh Boulton, which saw them go on to win by 14 points and book their place in the finals in Garry Ramsay’s first season at the helm.Advertisement
MONTMORENCY: 13.14 (92)
BEST: J. Donaldson, S. McCallum, P. Fitzgerald, B. Jenkin, J. Steele, S. Uzelac.
GOALS: P. Fitzgerald 6, S. McCallum 4, J. Donaldson, B. Fotheringhame, J. Boulton.
LOWER PLENTY: 11.12 (78)
BEST: T. Keys, J. Turner, T. Blake, M. Duckworth, C. Sleep, L. Naismith.
GOALS: D. Barden 2, C. Sleep 2, J. Turner 2, F. Delbridge, A. Alderton, T. Keys, B. Paterson, P. Warton.