If Saturday’s match between Diggers Rest and Riddell was a sign of things to come in Riddell District Football League, then it will be a cracker of a finals series.
The match-up between the undefeated Burras and third-placed Bombers was just the kind of tough game fans were seeking.
For only the second time this season, the Burras trailed at half-time, with the Bombers leading by 14 points.
The Burras kicked the only two goals of the third quarter to level the scores before both teams struggled to score in the last quarter.
A single goal was kicked in the last quarter – and it proved to be the matchwinner for the Burras, who won 9.11 (65)-8.9 (57).
Burras coach Shaun Sims said it was the type of game his side needed in the run to finals.
“We always knew it was going to be a really hard-fought game, as they are trying to hold on to third spot,” he said.
“One of their stalwarts was playing their 200th game and they had a premiership reunion, so there was a big crowd,” he said.
“It was a fantastic game of footy which was great to watch and to be a part of it.”
In the first half, the Bombers were able to make the most of their opportunities as the Burras struggled to go forward.
“They defended well,” Sims said. “Both teams were trying really hard … we just ground out the win. We were lucky to be on top in the end.
“It was really tough and both sides had good patches. We were having some issues scoring, but couldn’t doubt our effort around the ball.”
Michael Evans kicked three goals for the Burras and Thomas Gleeson and Brent Tuckey kicked two each.
Andrew Tyquin was named best on ground.
For the Bombers, Ben Said kicked three goals with Michael Sahlberg the only other multiple goalscorer. Jason Allen was named their best.
Sims said he expected to meet the Bombers come finals time.
The win sealed top spot for the Burras, but they know that will means nothing if they can’t win the grand final.
The Burras will play Sunbury Kangaroos in the final round of the season. The Kangaroos need a win to play finals.
“We only played them a few weeks ago,” Sims said. “The pressure was good from them in the first half before it dropped off. They probably dropped some games early on that they would have liked to win.”
Sims said Jason Williams, Luke Smailes, Jamie Lobb and Cole Laurie would all be available for selection.
The Burras’ reserves, who also lost in a grand final last year, will also finish the season on top of the ladder.