Demons through in a thriller

Port MacDonnell (94) def. Kalangadoo (83)

Port MacDonnell has taken the direct route to the MSEFL grand final at Tantanoola on September 18 following their impressive 11-point win over previously undefeated minor and reigning premiers Kalangadoo in the second semi-final at Glencoe last Saturday.

The victorious team led for 90pc of the contest and inaccuracy in front of goal trimmed the winning margin.

The Demons are now sizzling-hot grand final favourites and well placed to take the Wilf Sprengel premiership shield back to the Bay for the first time since 2012.

With the majority of first-choice players available for selection, the seasiders can rest up and be content in the knowledge they have had the measure of the two other clubs which remain in the finals race.

A berth in the 2021 season decider is a just reward for new coach Simon Merrett and the club hierarchy who secured recruits from Penola and Mount Gambier clubs.

They also encouraged four-time Mail Medallist Will Macdonald to return to the Bay.

While not dominant in the second semi, Macdonald booted three vital goals in a keenly-contested match where the winning margin was less than two straight kicks.

Played under mostly sunny skies, on an excellent playing surface and before a crowd which paid a record $13,700 at the gate, the unblemished season of the Magpies came to an abrupt end.

The Magpies now have to face up to a revived Hatherleigh in the cut-throat preliminary final on the Kongorong Oval on Saturday.

The Eagles will be led by newly-minted Mail Medallist Joe Ferguson-Lane.

Kalangadoo aced all their three MSEFL finals in 2019 but did not progress beyond the first weekend of the play-offs a year ago in the COVID-compromise Limestone Coast league.

The black-and-whites went down to South Gambier at Vansittart Park in the first semi.

There had been a heavy weight of expectation on the undefeated Magpies on Saturday as it is almost 60 years since a Kalangadoo team had gone through a season without dropping a game.

The last MSEFL team to do so was Mount Burr a decade ago.

Statistics showed the Magpies had the most potent attack and tightest attack during the 2021 home-and-away season while they had not lost a minor round game at Glencoe since 2013.

They had taken home the Max Matthews Memorial Trophy from their past seven trips to Glencoe.

However, this venue proved to be the undoing of ace forward Michael Krieger last month as he broke his leg.

He had booted 70 goals in his 14 games to claim the annual MSEFL goal kicking trophy.

When the opening siren sounded at 2.15pm, Kalangadoo opted to fill Krieger’s place in the goal square with Billy Galpin.

The seasiders decided to play ex-coach Ben McGregor at full-back.

A number of others were used in the key attacking role but none were able to boot more than two goals.

To counter the tall timber of the Bay Boys, the Magpies opted to chip the ball short distances to a free player.

However, this tactic often came unstuck due to the tremendous defensive pressure applied all over the ground by all 18 Demons.

The red-and-blues had the first use of the breeze which was worth around three goals to the team kicking to the eastern (school end).

After an arm wrestle lasting six minutes, it was Kalangadoo recruit Justin La Rocca who booted the first goal of the first semi.

His teammates added a further two goals before quarter time while Port MacDonnell booted an inaccurate 4.8.

Little more than a goal separated the sides at the two subsequent breaks and the Demons held sway in the last term.

Jake Turner, of Port MacDonnell, was the stand-out at centre half-forward while Kalangadoo’s best was evergreen utility player Nathan Reeves.

Hatherleigh (131)
def. Robe (29)

Hatherleigh had earned top spot after dropping just one game during the home-and-away season.

The Eagles were keen to make the best possible start to their premiership defence by taking the direct route to the season decider.

They quickly had the measure of the Robe Reserves and kicked away to a 102-point win.

As he had done in the 2019 grand final, Jack Altschwager proved to be an effective spearhead and finished with six goals.

Robe (160) def. Hatherleigh (18)

The undefeated Robe team had come into the double chance final as the warmest of favourites and it quickly put the Hatherleigh team to the sword.

The winning margin of 148 points is seldom seen in underage contests let alone a final.

Max Robertson led the way for the Roosters with eight goals and a ranking of best-on-ground.

The seaside club has been the launching pad for elite footballers including Sydney Swans star Jaryd Dawson and the Gold Coast Suns’ Connor Budarick.

The Eagles get a second chance in the preliminary final on Saturday at Kongorong.

Kongorong (17)
def. Hatherleigh (13)

The youngest Eagles and the youngest Hawks fought out the closet contest when the Mid South East Football League held its second semi final at Glencoe on Saturday.

It was the Kongorong who prevailed by a mere four points in the low-scoring match.

The black-and-golds have taken the direct route to the grand final at Tantanoola on September 18.

The victors were the minor premiers and this set the pattern for the two subsequent preliminary matches on the day.

Hatherleigh was best served by newly-minted Mansell Medallist Oliver Fitzgerald.

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