CONTEST: Panthers' Haidyn Thomas and Brothers' Damon Dessent go up for the ball.
CONTEST: Panthers' Haidyn Thomas and Brothers' Damon Dessent go up for the ball. Meg Bolton

Panthers, Saints march on through finals

AUSTRALIAN RULES: It was preliminary final action in the AFLC Frenchville Sports Club Premiership on the weekend and the last opportunity for teams to book a spot in the grand final.

The stakes were high and this was the day that nothing could be left in the tank, and all teams showed that when the siren sounded.

Kele Park was abuzz as the Kangaroos had teams in all three of the senior matches. The first to have a crack at a grand final spot were the reserves.

AFL, brothers, Jay Humphries
AFL, brothers, Jay Humphries Meg Bolton

The Kangaroos showed early they were up for the challenge and opened up a handy lead early when Peter Slee, Harley Edwards and Gary Gillespie all kicked majors but more importantly they were able to keep the Saints goalless at the first break.

The Roos knew that the Saints, a class outfit, would come out strong after the break and they weren't disappointed as the game quickly went up a notch.

While the Roos were able to add two majors to their tally, it was the Saints that launched the attack with five individual goal-kickers for the quarter, and when the half-time siren sounded both teams were locked on 35 points.

AFL Brothers Matthew Jones is defended by Jaxson Pringle
AFL Brothers Matthew Jones is defended by Jaxson Pringle Meg Bolton

The third term, known as the Premiership Quarter, was going to be vital for either side to wrestle some ascendancy but neither side was taking a backward step in a see-sawing quarter.

When Saints' Troy Bartlett registered his third of the match in the dying minutes of the term BITS had taken the slightest lead but there was only one straight kick in it at the final change.

One of these two teams only had 20 minutes left in their season and the crowd was treated to a thrilling final term when Slee kicked his second goal of the match. And when Matt Trinca followed it up shortly later with another, the Roos had their noses back in front by the solitary goal.

AFL, Panthers David Faulds
AFL, Panthers David Faulds Meg Bolton

With plenty of time left in the quarter, the match was still in the balance, but when Troy Bartlett kicked his fifth goal of the game it seemed as though BITS were off to defend their premiership title.

In a preliminary to remember, there was one final twist to the tale. When the Roos kicked a goal through Connor Chellingworth late in the match they were within one goal with one minute left on the clock. Unfortunately for the Roos, it wasn't the fairytale they had hoped for as the Saints skipper kicked one after the siren for a 12-point win to the Saints.

The scene was set and the crowd was up and about after an enthralling battle in the reserves. Now the blue-and-white army was urging their senior team to go one better.

AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan
AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan Meg Bolton

But the Panthers silenced the crowd early in the match when player/coach Michael Kreun kicked a goal inside the first two minutes and then backed it up shortly, the Roos knew they were in for a challenge with the Panthers primed to show why they are rated as the most improved team in the competition this year.

Brothers were rarely able to enter their attacking 50 and it was the Panthers that were converting their opportunities.

When Matt Ryan had kicked two of his own in the first term the Panthers had a comfortable six-goal buffer at the first change.

AFL, Xavier Thomas Frost
AFL, Xavier Thomas Frost Meg Bolton

The Panthers continued to pile on the pressure in the second quarter, despite Brothers' Steven Munchow finally opening the Roos' account early in the quarter. The Panthers continued to send the ball towards the goals, kicking a further five goals to open up a 10-goal lead at the main break and it seemed that the job was done.

To Brothers' credit, they didn't give up, and when Luke Rumpf, who had an outstanding match, kicked a goal to open the term and which was followed by another major from Jamie Searle, the crowd started to gain a little voice.

The Roos kicked three goals to two after the main break but it was going to take a monumental effort to claw their way back into this one.

AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan
AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan Meg Bolton

Rumpf continued his stellar 2019 form to start the final term, kicking two goals within two minutes to give the crowd something to cheer about.

While the Brothers gained some dominance in the first 15 minutes of the final time, a spate of goals by Panthers, five goals in under four minutes, gave them some momentum going into grand final week comfortable winners over the Roos.

It looked as though the 2019 fairytale was over for the Roos but they had one crack at Grand Final Day with their women prepared to go, however it was always going to be a challenge facing Glenmore, who have played in the past six grand finals.

AFL, Panthers Michael Kreun
AFL, Panthers Michael Kreun Meg Bolton

The Roos were determined to add to their only grand final appearance which was way back in 2011.

From the first bounce the Roos showed they were up for the challenge, and when they had registered three straight goals and kept their opponents to just the solitary point, the Roos dared to dream.

It was one goal apiece in the second quarter and while the Roos kept hold of the three-goal lead they had to get the job done without inspirational skipper Chelsea Carroll, who headed to hospital with a badly dislocated finger and split webbing on her hand.

AFL, Brothers, Kirk Davey
AFL, Brothers, Kirk Davey Meg Bolton

The Roos knew they were facing a talented opposition who had experience playing in high-pressure matches.

Bulls skipper Bree Grentell had her team up and about after the main break and she was continuously providing forward entries for the Bulls but they were unable to convert on the scoreboard, adding a further three behinds to their total with Brothers kicking the only goal for the quarter when Bella Anwyl kicked her second of the match.

The Bulls continued to fight in the final term and were determined to keep their run of grand final appearances alive.

AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan
AFL, Brothers Jarrod Donovan Meg Bolton

They continued to bombard the Brothers' defensive unit, with Lelani Nelson, Sara-Jane O'Grady and Taneile Ward working overtime to stop the attacks, but the Bulls were pulling back the margin, kicking two goals and three behinds for the quarter and suddenly the Roos couldn't get the ball deep to the forwards.

Eventually the siren sounded and the early lead for the Roos was enough for them to hold on to a five-point victory and see them make sure they would be there come Grand Final Day.

Brittany Mace, Olivia Dean and Beth Houlihan were outstanding for the Bulls as both sides gave their absolute all on the day.



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