By Sam Young
Bacchus Marsh has booked their place in the 2017 Ballarat Football Netball League Grand Final, after a comprehensive display against Lake Wendouree on Saturday in the Preliminary Final at the Eastern Oval.
The Minor Premiers Lake Wendouree were smashed right across the board on Saturday with an enthusiastic Cobras line-up looking to make a statement after a disappointing performance a week prior against Darley. A slight breeze favoured the Peel St end of the Eastern Oval and Bacchus Marsh looked to use that to their advantage early with classy playmaker, Declan Phyland goaling at the ten and thirteen-minute mark to get Cobras off to the perfect start.
The Lakers were without important shut down defender, Isaac Kirby, who was still missing through injury and Bacchus Marsh made them warrant his miss with mid-season import Jethro Calma-Holt, marking and goaling at the 15-minute mark to continue piling on the pressure.
To make matters worse for the Lakers, they then lost veteran defender Scott Carey, who seemed to severely damage his ankle and this loss allowed Cobras small forward Billy Griffiths the opportunity to kick his 18th goal of the season and make it 28 points to zero as the game the ticked into time on.
Arthur Armstrong was clearly the Lakers best all afternoon with the big man finally getting his side on the board at the 25-minute mark with a contentious contested mark in the goal square which result in their major. However, it was quickly cancelled out with ex-South Barwon footballer Ryley Stuhldreier slamming one home from 50 to give Bacchus Marsh a commanding 27-point lead at the first break.
Cobras Coach Travis Hodgson was thrilled at his quarter time address highlighting that quarter of football couldn’t have been more impressive. He urged his side to continue to press kicking into the breeze and reminding them that he wanted at least a four goal lead at half time.
It was the Lakers who came out firing in the second term with back-to-back goals from first Jayden Hooper and then key forward Lucas Anderson quickly reduced the margin within two goals. With Wendouree cementing a challenge the Cobras put their foot down and ran ragged with four goals in four minutes to take the Lakers to the cleaners. The returning Scott Sherlock was terrific, setting up a number of passages of play and dominated the contested footy to hand his side a 27-point lead at half time.
Youngster Dylon Bishop played arguably his best game in senior colours for Bacchus Marsh with one goal in the first half but also plenty of exciting combinations of play with teammate Billy Griffiths. Lake Wendouree lost x-factor Nathan Pring for the second half as well, as the interleague representative’s troublesome hamstring once again went and finished his afternoon. Lake Wendouree once again booted the opening goals of the term, but as they did in the second Bacchus Marsh responded with Declan Phyland kicking his third at the 11-minute mark and Daniel Burton getting his second moments later. Burton resumed number one ruck duties for the Cobras as he has looked to finally overcome a number of leg injuries which has hampered his 2017 season. With his side trailing by 43-points at three quarter time, Lake Wendouree coach Tim Malone still did his best to motivate his chargers at his three quarter time address. With two players down on the bench and their season on the line Malone was extremely animated in trying to spark a glimmer of hope in his chargers. The Lakers came out firing in the final term, however three straight behinds, including two posters to sharpshooter Lucas Anderson opened the opportunity for Stuhldrier to get his second at the nine-minute mark and seal the game for the Cobras. 2016 Henderson Medallist Ben Taylor did continue his record of goaling in every single game this season for the Lakers at the 15-minute mark, but once again Stuhldrier responded kicking his third and seventh goal in the entire finals campaign, all against the Lakers.
Nick Peters did get one late to win the final term for the Lakers, but Bacchus Marsh ultimately were allowed to take their foot of the gas and run out 36 point winners in front of a very healthy crowd. Post-game Hodgson was very proud of his chargers performance. He highlighted the performance of the returning Scott Sherlock and described him as “a very special and one of kind type of player.”
Bacchus Marsh have the opportunity to make it backtoback premierships when they take on cross town rivals Darley, next Saturday afternoon at Mars Stadium. The two Bacchus Marsh sides are expected to pack the new AFL venue with the game being between the 2015 and 2016 premiers respectively. First bounce is scheduled for 2:30pm at Mars Stadium and the Ballarat Football League have confirmed they will be allowing access to fans and spectators to the quarter time and three quarter time huddles, after the fiasco at the Central Highlands Grand Final a couple weeks prior. Bacchus Marsh 14.15.99 def. Lake Wendouree 9.9.63