Unbeaten Bombers barrel through to grand final

By Kyabram Free Press

ANOTHER rusty start.

Another shiny finish.

Kyabram Football Club is into its fifth successive GVL season decider and its eighth grand final in the past 11 years after storming over Shepparton in the second half of its second semi-final showdown at Euroa on Saturday.

The unbeaten Bombers were slow starting again and were just three points ahead at half-time.

But they erupted in the second half, kicking 12 goals to the Bears’ two to run out winners by a massive 73 points.

Shepparton kicked three goals in the first seven minutes of the game, but did not get another major until the 15-minute mark of the third term. Its only other goal for the game came late in the last quarter.

The Bombers were back to their ferocious best after a half-time plea from co-coach Paul Newman for his players to lift their intensity.

He got what he ordered — and a bit more.

In the first half only Patrick Wearden, Mick Mattingly, Luke Morris, defenders Lachie Smith and Tom Sheldon and key forward Brad Mangan were weathering the Bears' storm to any satisfactory degree.

Despite kicking one goal among 10 behinds in their first 11 scoring shots, the off-target  Bombers still hinted late in the second term they were ready to ignite.

Sparked by talented forward Hayden Gemmill, who kicked three goals for the term, the Bombers hit the go button early in the third quarter and in a twinkling the game was over.

Most Kyabram players stepped up and some who had been in good early form when the side was under pressure continued to have an  influence.

Prime movers in relentless runner  Mattingly,  Wearden, ruckmen Norris and Jake Reeves suddenly had help from just about ever player in the side, as the Bombers launched attack after attack.

Josh Dillon, Brad Whitford, Nic Coulstock, Riley Ironside, Sam Sheldon and Josh Pell all suddenly became influential players.

Apart from Gemmill, Mangan was always a reliable target in attack and while he won the ball with his usual kit of skills, the league’s leading goalkicker, Kyle Mueller, got only a two-goal return from six shots on goal.

In the end it was a whitewash and Shepparton will need to rebound in startling style this Sunday to get over Echuca and earn the right to defend the flag it wrenched from Kyabram’s seemingly unbreakable grip last year.

Bombers co-coach Newman however was quick to acknowledge Shepparton had a lot of its key playmakers out injured for the game and warned it would be premature to write them off, although Echuca, Sunday’s first semi-final winners against Rochester, will be a massive challenge in the preliminary final at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton.

Newman was not impressed with Kyabram’s first half but said the third and last quarters were a lot more like what he expects from his charges.

The Bombers now have a two-week break to ready themselves for another grand final.

Utility star Tom Holman was the only certain grand final player who was not risked on Saturday due to shoulder soreness.

My best for Kyabram: Mick Mattingly, Patrick Wearden, Lachie Smith, Tom Sheldon, Brad Mangan, Luke Morris, Hayden Gemmill.

by Gus Underwood