There will be no fairy-tale ending for the Robe Football Club as the 2021 season ended for it at Mick and Jean Walker Oval at Mount Burr on Saturday when it succumbed to Hatherleigh by a mere six points.
Before a large crowd on the renowned Can Hill, the Eagles advanced via a gritty contest to the Mid South East Football League preliminary final at Kongorong on September 11.
They will meet the loser of this Saturday’s second semi-final at Glencoe between undefeated minor premiers and reigning premiers Kalangadoo and Port MacDonnell.
It was the second consecutive heart-breaking loss by the seasiders in a first semi as they narrowly went down to eventual premiers Kalangadoo at Kongorong in 2019.
Going on the form and grit displayed by Jake Dowdy’s team on Saturday, it is very much in the mix for premiership honours.
Hatherleigh was given another boost on Sunday when its inspirational captain and joint assistant coach Joe Ferguson-Lane won the 2021 Mail Medal.
Mind you, it is not quite yet the time for the blue-and-golds to order the vintage Dom Perignon champagne for the season decider at Tantanoola on September 18.
After all, some undisciplined play by Robe brought multiple yellow cards and 50m penalties.
Furthermore, some crucial errors proved costly for the Roosters and lady luck deserted the red-and-whites.
One such example occurred at the 25-minute mark of the final term with the scores tied up.
With a few minutes remaining and extra time looking likely, burly Robe forward Riley Dickinson took a strong contested overhead mark near the goals.
The umpire blew his whistle to signal Dickinson had taken a clean grab.
Instead of going back to take a set shot for a game-high fourth major, Dickinson made the fateful decision to immediately play on and this was the umpire’s call.
With nearby Can Hill erupting in full voice, the ball was knocked out of Dickinson’s hands. It was cleared by the Hatherleigh defence and lobbed in the middle of the Mount Burr Oval surrounded by a pack of players.
It was then that lady luck intervened again but she favoured the Eagles.
Veteran ex-coach Jase Faulkner took a calculated gamble which literally wrong-footed the Robe defence.
Faulkner soccered the ball which became airborne for 30 metres before lobbing in the lap of Dowdy in the true centre half-forward position.
His booming 50 metre set shot split the sticks and earned him his third goal.
Only two more scoreless minutes were played with Hatherleigh winning by one straight kick.
The dominant player for Robe was SANFL recruit Billy Laurie.
It is now mothballs time for Robe while Hatherleigh players certainly know their dream of a 2021 flag is much, much closer.
There is open speculation among some senior figures at the Robe Football Club the seasiders have played their last game in the MSEFL.
They are unhappy with aspects of the so-called “Family League” which has been its home since 1966.
These disenchanted RFC members are keen to advance the possibility of joining the neighbouring Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League in 2022.
Meanwhile, MSEFL officials were delighted with gate takings of almost $13,000 given the grey skies.
Mt Burr appointed marshals to endure all COVID protocols were met.
B Grade – Port MacDonnell (114) defeated Kalangadoo (56)
The B Grade result was the most one-sided tussle among the four games played in the first semi final of the Mid South East Football League at Mick and Jean Walker Oval at Mount Burr on Saturday.
Port MacDonnell crushed Kalangadoo by 58 points to advance to another cut-throat final on September 11.
The Demons qualified for the preliminary final at Kongorong while the season is over for the Magpies.
The seasiders made their intention known by quarter time as they held a 20- point lead.
They kicked away thereafter and had almost 30 scoring shots.
This is testament to their dominance as well as the high-quality playing service superbly prepared by honorary groundsman Peter Henderson.
The most dominant forward was Port MacDonnell’s Mason Brown with four goals while teammate Rhys Timms was named as best-on-ground.
Kalangadoo was well served by Jones Jamil and Justin Mansell.
Senior Colts – Tantanoola (68) defeated Kongorong (56)
The dream of Tantanoola senior colts playing a grand final at home at Tigerland on September 18 is well and truly alive after they defeated Kongorong by 12 points.
The Hawks mounted stiff resistance throughout the contest and the result was in doubt until the dying minutes.
Their best players were James Allen and Riley Maconachie.
Tiger spearhead Ellis Cushion proved a reliable avenue to goal and finished with five goals.
It was quite a weekend for his team mate Cade Kelly who was listed in the best players.
On the following day, Kelly was named the joint runner-up for the Malseed Medal as the best and fairest player in the competition.
Junior Colts – Robe (43) defeated Glencoe (34)
Another close encounter was evident in the opening game of the first semi-final.
In an intense and low-scoring contest in which no player scored more than two goals, Robe junior colts resisted a determined Glencoe outfit by a lean nine points.
The result means all four teams from the Robe Football Club are still alive for premiership honours.
Best for the victors were Vincent Moore and Cooper Thomas while the Murphies were well served by Lachlan Brierley and Kaleb Price.