Tiger tough

September 07, 2017

ROCHESTER’S seniors lived to fight another day in the Goulburn Valley Football League after an impressive elimination final win against Euroa on Sunday.

They continued the brilliant end of season form that has seen them win five straight games in impressive fashion, removing the Magpies from the finals race at the Benalla Showgrounds.

And 2008 grand final star Elliot Bowen wound back the clock in the 42-point win, showing he is still one of the elite forwards in the competition with a masterful display including two goals.

The Rochester backline allowed five goals in the first half, but locked down in the second to completely negate the dangerous Euroa line-up, held to just two goals.

The miserly defence led by coach James Flaherty and James Gledhill created a heap of turnovers and rebound out of the back 50, particularly in the third quarter when it kept the Magpies to two behinds despite them having the majority of the inside 50s.

Flaherty said while the defence had again done its job, the help right across the ground made it a lot easier.

‘‘Our back six or seven has had pretty similar personel over the last month, but the pressure we got from the midfielders and forwards enables us to be in the contest,’’ he said.

A hotly contested first half saw Rochester edge the play, its forward line looking more potent than the opposition’s as both sides struggled to get on top in the midfield battle.

‘‘We knew it would be a tough start to the game being finals footy,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘Euroa is a hard-running side and they use the ball well. The first half was an arm-wrestle and we wanted improvement at half-time. Defensively we got that, and we wore them down.

‘‘We had a lot more forward entries (in the last quarter) and we were able to get on top.’’

It was the favourite at three-quarter-time with a 16-point lead but saved its best until last, piling on six final-term goals to blow the Magpies away.

Scott Oakley kicked the first two of the final stanza, Wil Hamilton and Steven Stroobants the next couple to build a 41-point advantage.

The game was a hard, physical contest with plenty of big hits by both sides. The day was summed up in the last term with an early massive tackle laid on young forward James McPhee. McPhee wore the tackle and went on to kick a late sealer for the Tigers.

Flaherty and his brilliant defensive work saw him named the side’s best. Mitch Bright, Nick O’Connor and Sam Brennan were some of the other standouts along with Bowen.

The retiring forward only snagged two goals but his play and movement opened up the forward line and brought players like Jarod Bacon, O’Connor and Stroobants to chip in with goals.

The Tigers move forward to Sunday’s semi-final against the Shepparton Bears.

Rochester boats a win against them this season, having toppled them by 33 points in round eight.

‘‘Their year last year was huge and they’ve continued that this season,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘They’ll be hard to beat, similar to Eoura they have key small forwards and move the ball well, it will be a good test. We have to respect what they can do but we go there with confidence and momentum.

‘‘We only played them once relatively early in the season, but our record is very good against them. There’s maybe a bit of pressure on them, but we need to produce again.’’

Perry Oliver missed a second week with a quad injury. The forward is touch and go to face the Bears on Sunday..

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