Shepparton was able to absorb a tough Rochester challenge in the first half before powering away to a strong victory after the main break of yesterday’s first semi-final.
The wide expanses of Memorial Oval turned into the Bears’ playground in the third term, with the young team running all over the Tigers to pile on 56 unanswered points from three minutes into the half until the 11th minute of the final stanza.
Fast, fierce and frenetic football seemed to be the mantra of the Bears as they continually played on at every opportunity to give forwards John Bradaric (five goals), James Wong (two) and Luke Smith (two) every chance of kicking a winning score.
‘‘We really focused on playing our footy, we’ve got a brand that we play and are confident in and it was important that we didn’t freeze and go away from that, we just had to believe and have faith and be positive about that,’’ coach Brad Campbell said.
‘‘You’ve just got to back yourself in and have that belief and I thought the boys were really good in that regard.’’
Most impressive was Shepparton’s midfield brigade, with Ben Davies (44 disposals), David Stretton (32) and Nik Rokahr (30) stamping their collective authority onto the clash from the outset.
‘‘They were terrific, they were a little bit disappointed with certain areas of their game last week, so we really put it on them that they had to get better in certain areas, and I thought the clearance work was a lot better today,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘They’ve got a lot of pride those guys and they’re good players and good players respond and perform in big games, and I’m really proud of them for responding.’’
The Bears controlled the football for most of the day, but Rochester was able to counter well in the first half to go into the main break just a goal down.
But from there it was all one-way traffic — simply too much for the tired Tigers to claw back.
‘‘We probably looked a little bit out of legs, they (Shepparton) ran really hard two ways, so we were disappointed, but they were the better side on the day,’’ playing coach James Flaherty said.
Retiring trio Heath Aitken (two goals), Elliot Bowen (two) and Sam Brennan (one) refused to go meekly into the night, fighting for every possession as if it was their last — and eventually one was.
‘‘They (the retirees) still showed a bit last week as well and we didn’t roll over I think in that last quarter, which was a good sign,’’ Flaherty said.
‘‘So we pay tribute to their careers and it was disappointing the way we finished, but that’s footy.’’
James Gledhill, Nathan Marrone, Nick O’Connor and the speedy Jarod Bacon also performed well, showcasing that the Tigers will be back with plenty of bite next season.
‘‘Our under-18s played finals for the first time in a while and our reserves were there as well, so it’s going to be hard to replace three club legends, but I might throw things around a little bit with the way we want to play,’’ Flaherty said.
‘‘We did play five or six first-gamers this year, so there’s some upside.’’
Meanwhile, the Bears live on in this campaign, and must overcome Seymour in Sunday’s preliminary if they are to earn another crack at Kyabram in what would be the club’s first grand final appearance since winning its last flag in 2000.
‘‘(We) know it’s one game and it’s a good feeling to win it and a great effort by them, but we want to keep going, we want to do that again, we want to get better and better,’’ Campbell said.
Shepparton 4.2 7.4 12.10 15.12 (102)
Rochester 3.3 6.4 6.5 8.8 (56)
Tyler Maher’s best
Shepparton: Ben Davies, Nik Rokahr, David Stretton, Ash Holland, Harry Boyd, Matt Brett.
Rochester: Nathan Marrone, Dillon Williams, Elliot Bowen, Jarod Bacon, James Gledhill, Nick O’Connor.
Shepparton: John Bradaric 5, Luke Smith, James Wong 2, Joel Brett, David Stretton, James Lloyd, Ben Davies, Matt Brett, Anthony Andronaco.
Rochester: Elliot Bowen, Heath Aitken 2, Steven Stroobants, Dillon Williams, Sam Brennan, Wil Hamilton.