St Arnaud finals aspirations fall short
August 14, 2012By Shane Goss
North Central Football League...
THE St Arnaud Saints have failed to grab a spot in the top four of the North Central Football League despite a spirited effort against finals rival Birchip-Watchem at Lord Nelson Park in St Arnaud. With just four points separating the teams heading into the round, a win was a must for the Saints if they were to play any part in September.
In cool and breezy conditions before a good crowd, the Saints began well with playing coach James McNamee kicking the first two goals of the game. Kicking with the wind towards the changerooms end, St Arnaud attacked the ball with the desire McNamee would have hoped for.
However, no sooner had St Arnaud gone two goals up and the canteen had run out of dim sims, that the Bulls found the target and added three majors of their own to lead by four points at the first change. As the respective netball and hockey games went on around the main stage, the Saints fought to stay in the hunt. They were struggling without multiple talls in the forward line with McNamee a one-man band.
At the main break the visitors were nine points up. Volunteers in the canteen were kept on their toes as the temperature struggled to reach double figures. The season before the Saints were cemented to the bottom of the ladder. This year there had been anticipation of some finals action. The second-half was important.
Neither side were prepared to give an inch in the third quarter and traded blows like Olympic boxers fighting for gold. Former North Melbourne premiership player, Shannon Motlop, now with St Arnaud, was trying to lift his team through the midfield but urged his teammates for speedier ball movement.
The margin was reduced to seven points at the final change. Locals seated in-front of their cars around the boundary had forgotten the radio coverage from the MCG. Instead wondering whether or not the Saints fortunes had finally changed. It was on the cards just minutes into the final quarter as again full-forward McNamee led by example to put the Saints in front.
But their glory didn't last. The Bulls charged into their forward line again and again in the final quarter. Spearhead Lachie Foott kicked his fifth goal for the game. He was well supported by Jarrod Tyler and Tim Walder who snared three each. Cameron Hall was close to best-on-ground for the Bulls down back and the mop-haired Charlie Hallam was in everything around the middle.
Birchip-Watchem piled on seven goals to St Arnaud's three for the quarter to run out 32 point winners. The margin was not indicative of the game and the Saint's efforts to remain in the race for the finals. McNamee was a standout for the Saints with his eight goals while Motlop, Jono Miles and Torin Petrie all battled hard. In the end the Saints could well have done with another tall marking option down forward.
Birchip-Watchem delivered when it mattered and move up to third place on the ladder. St Arnaud's season is all but over, needing to beat second-placed Wycheproof-Narraport away in the penultimate round next week.
St Arnaud: 2.6 - 5.9 - 9.10 - 12.11.83.
Birchip-Watchem: 3.4 - 7.6 - 10.11 - 17.13.115.
St Arnaud - McNamee 8, R.Wild, S.Motlop, N.Coghlan, B.Organ 1. (McNamee 42 for year)
B/W - L.Foott 5, J.Tyler 3, T.Walder 3, M.Smith 2, C.Hall, R.Vesikuru, D.Ferrier, Z.Holmes 1. (Foott 62 for year)
St Arnaud - S.Miles, S.Motlop, J.McNamee, T.Petrie, L.Stewart.
B/W - C.Hallam, Z.Holmes, T.Carland, A.Hutchins, T.Walder, C.Hall.
• Birchip-Watchem - the visitors - kicked clear of St Arnaud in the final term after an even contest during the day. Photo by Shane Goss.
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