Kalangadoo players only have a few more days to rest their weary bodies ahead of the final match in the 2021 Bendigo Bank Mid South East Football League season.
They have earned a place in the “big dance” and will now play scorching-hot favourites Port MacDonnell in the MSEFL grand final at Tantanoola on Saturday.
It follows their comfortable 27-point win over a gallant Hatherleigh in the preliminary final in overcast conditions at Kongorong last Saturday.
The 2021 second semi combatants will face off again on an oval which runs in an east-west alignment.
The Demons and the Magpies last met in a grand final 23 years ago and it was played in wet and heavy conditions at Tarpeena.
It was to be the last such fixture to be hosted by the Canaries.
Victory narrowly went the way of the seasiders with their inspirational and goal-scoring centreman Paul Crameri winning the Stan Jones Memorial Medal as best-on-ground.
Back to Saturday at Kongorong, it was the more desperate and committed brand of football of the minor premiers which has earned them the chance to defend their 2019 A Grade premiership.
The weather forecasters had predicted cloudy skies for the MSEFL preliminary final and they were spot-on in their statements.
Despite the three curtain-raisers and a wet winter, there were no muddy areas on the Kongorong Oval.
There was a strong breeze favouring the Kongorong Primary School end throughout the A Grade contest and a light shower fell just before three-quarter time.
It was an important toss to win as the B Grade team with the first use of the breeze had slammed on 9.2 while conceding only one behind.
There was to be no such imbalance in A Grade after Kalangadoo skipper Mitch Lowe won the choice of ends.
Goals to his team mates Billy Galpin and Andrew Stone were answered by opposition coach Jake Dowdy.
Taking into account the value of the breeze, Hatherleigh would have been well-pleased the deficit was a modest nine points at the first change.
The Magpies then achieved a game-changing three goal burst into the breeze in the opening five minutes of the second term.
Evergreen Kalangadoo forward Ben Mules was prominent in these forays and dominated thereafter.
At 38, he was the oldest of the 44 players on the ground and finished the game with a game-high tally of four goals.
This blitz earned Kalangadoo a lead of almost five goals and Hatherleigh never drew much closer for the remainder of the match.
The task of the Eagles was made much harder when Sam Telfer (hamstring) and Jordan Galpin (knee) were injured before half-time.
The Eagles did not give up but the Magpies always had their measure.
The black-and-whites worked well and showed why they had only one blemish to date on their 2021 playing record.
To add interest to the season decider at Tigerland, the Port MacDonnell club will also do battle in the B Grade curtain-raiser when it takes on minor premiers Hatherleigh.
Saturday’s crowd paid over $13,700 at the gate and this was within a whisker of an all-time preliminary final record.
In the meantime, preparations are in full swing at the Tantanoola Oval in readiness for the grand final.
Tigerland last hosted a season finale in 2011 when Robe was unable to stop the unbeaten run of Mount Burr.
Among the patrons will be former Glencoe Football Club president and multiple premiership player Max Childs who has seen every MSEFL grand final since 1947.
Officials are pleading with patrons to bring their own folding chairs to Tantanoola in order to comply with strict COVID regulations relating to the consumption of food and beverages.
The MSEFL umpires panel will have their final training run at Glencoe tomorrow night (Wednesday) and then the appointments across all four grades will be announced.
B Grade – Port MacDonnell 15.7 d Robe 4.5
Luck is a fortune thing in finals footy and the Port MacDonnell B Grade team had it in spades when it took on Robe in the Mid South East Football League preliminary final at Kongorong on Saturday.
The seasiders earned a grand final berth against minor premiers Hatherleigh thanks to a 68-point thrashing of the Roosters.
It was helped in no small measure by winning the toss and booting with the breeze towards the southern (school) end.
The Demons played champagne football to slam on 9.2 in the opening term while conceding a mere behind.
There was to be no fairy-tale comeback by Robe as each side booted one major in the second term.
Honours were shared in the second half as Port MacDonnell players secured a piece of grand final action with their A Grade counterparts.
Perhaps they were inspired by their Demon counterparts in the AFL.
Senior Colts – Hatherleigh 3.10 d Tantanoola 2.4
Tantanoola players were hoping to secure a grand final berth at home but it was not to be.
In the lowest-scoring contest of the preliminary final day, only a total of five goals were scored.
Hatherleigh held on to win by 12 points in the closest margin of the day.
The Eagles and the Roosters will meet in the season decider and both clubs had all four grades reach the major round.
Only the Robe senior colts reached the grand final while Hatherleigh will be represented in this grade along with the junior colts and B Grade.
COVID-related travel restrictions mean ex-Robe footballer and current Sydney Swan star Jordan Dawson will be unlikely to cheer on his home club as he did at the 2019 grand final at Mount Burr.
Junior Colts – Hatherleigh 8.4 d Robe 3.5
The day began well for the Hatherleigh Football Club as its youngest team accounted for Robe by 29 points.
Although a significant margin, the match was nevertheless keenly contested and still in the balance at the last change.
The victory has earned the Eagles the right to take on Kongorong for grand final honours.