By OSCAR PERRI
West Football club have pulled off a miracle to beat the Federals for the first time this year to win their way into the CAFL senior men’s grand final this weekend.
A last quarter comeback saw the game come down to a kick after the siren for the Feds, but it wasn’t to be, and West now look forward to facing the undefeated Rovers for the premiership.
Twice during the year, including the last round of the season the Feds have beaten West by 42 points, while the other game was far slimmer with a five point margin, which turned out to be the difference again this week.
Goals came early for both sides, which was impressive for West who were missing key forward Liam Jurrah, but the omission was well made up for by Ishmale Nandy in his fifth game for the side.
He slotted a beautiful snap about half way through the quarter after shaking his opponent with some silky footwork.
The experiment of playing Toshie Kunoth in defense continued and, alongside Stanley Kenny, West’s half backline held up very well against the barrage of football that was being sent their way from Robbie Bartee and Lindsay Rowe, who were both finding lots of the footy.
The Feds spoiled some good chances to kick ahead late in the quarter, and trailed by four points at the first break.
An early goal from Henley Driffin put the Feds in front for the first time, but West owned the rest of the quarter and did not allow them another, while kicking away themselves.
It was a team effort from the West forwards, each of their four goals for the quarter coming from a different boot, and all were well fed by Geoffrey Pareroultja and Kunoth, who’d been allowed some time on the ball.
West brought a 23 point lead into the third quarter, which turned into a real slog as the two tough playing teams cranked up the pressure.
Kunoth played much more of the second half on the ball, battling it out with Bartee in a series of entertaining contests.
The Federals were missed the height of ruck-forward Danial Gorry as a target near to goal, but still managed to kick the first two goals of the quarter, pulling themselves back to trail by 10 points with five minutes to go.
But again the tide turned in West’s favour, and goals from Marcus McDonald and Tom Sullivan saw the margin stretch back out to 21 points at the final break.
Bartee spent much more time playing deep in the forward line in an effort to spark more scoring.
It turned out to be an excellent move, as he dominated Kenny and the West defenders, who had kept a lid on the Federals scorers for most of the game.
It was up to Bartee to be the hero and he was up for the task, kicking three goals, while Ned Gaynor rallied the Federals’ defenders to keep West goalless for the term.
After a couple missed opportunities from West to kick a goal and put the game on ice, all of a sudden the ball was in the Federals’ forward line, with less than a goal in it and under a minute on the clock.
The stage was set, and when Henry Impu, who had been quiet with just one goal, received a free kick, to have a shot to win the game after the siren. All held their breath.
The moment got the better of Impu, and he was not able to make the distance, the West bench roared and celebrated, they were on the cards to take on the Rovers in a grand final.