NATHALIA has advanced into the preliminary final after Liam Evans led the Purples to an 86-point victory over Mulwala with a brilliant seven goal performance on Saturday.
The Nathalia forward was at his creative best as the Purples controlled most of the match, despite being outscored in the second quarter.
The Purples started strongly with a five goal to one goal first quarter and led by 19 points, thanks in part to some poor conversion from the Lions in front of goal.
“Mulwala was very good early again, which we expected,” Nathalia coach, Mal Barnes said.
Mulwala’s midfield lifted in the second term and started to get on top at the stoppages, feeding the ball backwards with handball.
This pattern of play allowed the Lions to move the ball forward more efficiently, placing pressure on the Nathalia defenders.
Nathalia’s defence, consisting of Rhys Shannon, Ryan Butler, Al Corry and Ned Nihill continued to work hard to nullify the Lions’ attack, however they still managed to narrow the margin to eight points at the main break.
“It was a real credit to our backs, as the ball was coming in quite regularly and pretty fast,“ Barnes said.
Both teams exchanged early third quarter goals before Nathalia started to get on top and boot the next five goals to take a lead of 35 points into the final quarter.
The final quarter saw the Nathalia midfield back on top, pushing forward at every opportunity to kick away with eight unanswered goals.
Jason Limbrick was again impressive rucking well and kicking three goals.
“It was a very even contribution once again around the ground, which was really pleasing,” said Barnes.
Nathalia will now play the winner of Echuca United and Congupna at Katandra, Saturday week at 2pm.
Defence starts here … Ryan Butler stops another foray forward with an intercept mark in front of Lions forward Sean Robinson.