NUMURKAH came out firing this week and completed a 13 goal turnaround against last week’s nemesis, Echuca United, to head straight into the preliminary final.
Looking to atone for last week’s 10 goal drubbing by the Eagles, the Blues re-evaluated and, in a see-sawing match, reversed their fortunes, proving too good for the Eagles and running out winners by 18 points.
The Blues learnt a lot from the previous week’s loss, and it was clear from the first bounce that the intensity had risen across the board.
The first quarter saw a combined nine goals kicked, with the Blues’ midfield looking to take the upper hand.
Jamie Fulton and Tim Arnel were imposing figures at the stoppages, continually winning clearances and sending the ball forward, which saw the Blues take a seven point lead into the first break.
With the aid of the breeze, the Eagles lifted in the second quarter.
Josh Hoffman provided an impact off the bench to help the Blues keep pace with the Eagles as they took the lead into the main break by the narrowest of margins.
“It was a nail biter at half time, the game was in the balance, however the boys dug really deep and capitalised in front of goal this week,” Numurkah coach, Jye Warren said.
The third quarter proved just as tight, with League MVP Beau McKeown continuing his terrific form in the centre and breaking down the Eagles’ possession.
Michael Herlihy was proving to be a threat in front of goal, both as a marking target and in play.
Grant Gallus once again took the job on the league’s leading goal kicker Josh Mellington, and with great support from fellow defender Matt Smyth, put in an outstanding performance.
“Grant came up to me through the week and said he was confident going into the final, having worked out how Mellington plays his game.
“He played to his height and put a lot of pressure on him when the ball was coming into the forward 50, and the midfield helped out a lot as well,” Warren said.
Mellington had four goals to half time, however, had no further impact, remaining goalless for the second half due to Gallus’ strength in the air and on the ground.
“I put it to the guys at three quarter time that they could either curl over and think the job’s done, or put some pressure on them into the wind.
“We definitely wanted to run the footy into the wind, making sure someone was open before kicking and not bomb it into the air as it was holding up in the breeze,” said Warren.
With Numurkah leading by four points going into the final quarter, they dug deep, limiting Echuca to a solitary goal in the final term and kicking a further three of their own.
Herlihy finished with six goals for the day and Josh Hoffmann three goals, to open up the margin.
“We went in with some sore bodies this week, so the week off will be a blessing,” said Warren.
Numurkah will play the preliminary final Sunday week at 2pm at Barooga Recreation Reserve against a team that is yet to be decided.