Mulwala travelled to Cobram to take on Tongala for a crack at a preliminary finals berth and the conditions were tough for both teams and not conducive to skilful football.
Tongala 3.2 5.5 6.6 10.9 69
Mulwala 4.0 5.3 7.8 9.8 62
GOALS: Tongala: Makenzie Ryan 4, Nicholas Woods 1, Cameron Ilett 1, Jack Hammond 1, Anthony Dennis 1, Jayden Tucker 1, Jordan Souter 1. Mulwala: Beau Clarke 3, Adam Rouel 2, Leigh Howroyd 1, Harrison Crossley 1, Dylan Flanagan 1, Sean Robinson 1.
BEST: Tongala: Cameron Ilett, Makenzie Ryan, Jack Hammond, Corey Nexhip, Adam Lovison, Jordan Souter. Mulwala: William Barden, Reece Geary, Beau Clarke, Glenn Dominick, Jackson Gash, Sean Robinson.
The wind was howling across the ground and the conditions were rather artic.
The teams were full of locally grown talent with both teams building lists from their young local players and the win was going to hard earned on the day.
Tongala had the advantage of the blustery breeze in the first term and were on the attack early in the quarter but the Mulwala back six were standing up well, minimizing Tongala’s scoring chances. Josh Hammond was covering a lot of ground with his opponent leading up hard on the wide expanses of Scott Oval.
Cam Carling was making every contest a winner, clearing the ball on many occasions.
Having these two back into the team meant the back line was more balanced.
In the middle Hamish was winning the clearances with deft taps to Jackson Gash, Harry Crossley and Sean Robinson.
Mulwala’s forward thrusts were being well covered in the difficult conditions with marks on the lead very difficult to manage.
Beau Clarke was one player who was able to mark the ball strongly overhead and was covering an enormous amount of territory in an attempt to give his team the scoring advantage.
Beau would go on to be a pivotal player whose efforts kept Mulwala in the game.
Bill Bardon’s work rate around the ground was proving to be a real positive for Mulwala but even with his best efforts scoring was still supper difficult.
Liam Russell had been handed the task of dulling the influence of NTFL Legend Cam Illett and was sticking to his job with discipline and determination.
Illett wasn’t without influence in the contest but was under pressure when he did win the ball.
Tongala’s poise with the ball was a bit better than Mulwala throughout the contest which helped them to keep possession when it counted and to maintain a slight lead during the first half of an enthralling finals contest.
Mulwala’s speed running the ball through the middle of the ground with Lachie Davis breaking clear regularly but turning inside fifties into scores was extremely difficult.
Reece Geary was standing out from the crowd with his sure hands and accurate kicking in the blustery conditions.
He turned many a promising Tongala attack away with his ability to read the game and win the contested ball.
Glenn Dominick battled hard with support coming from Damien Cook who combined with him to run the ball out of defence.
Mulwala looked threatening at times but weren’t able to break the shackles of a determined Tongala team who were intent on keeping the game in lock down.
Harry Crossley combined with Tom Dow and Adam Rouel who was able to snap a much-needed goal for the Lions, these young players were showing great determination, but Mulwala were still not able to break clear.
The loss of both Harry and Hamish to injury just before the long break put untold pressure on the Mulwala midfield who were already without Sean Johns who broke his ankle last week.
Down two players and without a dominant ruckman in Hamish the battle became a real arm wrestle for the remainder of the game.
Try as they might Mulwala just couldn’t get the game on their terms and points separated the teams for most of the second half.
Mulwala edged ahead early in the last term, but Tongala rallied once again kicking three unanswered goals to late in the term to get out to unassailable lead.
Mulwala kept trying with a goal late heading into time on by Beau Clarke and another couple of missed chances resulting in points giving them some hope.
Mulwala eventually were defeated by seven points by a very determined Tongala team and although extremely disappointing to lose and bow out of the finals race the players never gave up trying in what were very difficult conditions for finals football.
The playing group and coaches will be very disappointed to not progress deeper into the finals but can be proud of their efforts in making finals and will learn from the experience and use it as motivation to improve as a group heading into next season.
Mulwala still has netball teams in the mix and the club will get behind them over the next two weeks as they aim to win a flag for the club.