A THIRD straight grand final appearance is within Leitchville-Gunbower’s reach after a scrappy win against Colbinabbin in Saturday’s Heathcote and District Football League qualifying final.
It led at every change and showed its superiority throughout the contest to move through to this weekend’s semi-final against North Bendigo, the winner to lock in a grand final position.
The Bombers got four goals from star Matt Perri but young duo Logan Prout and Brady Hore were just as crucial in the win as they continued their scintillating form, the side’s 11th straight win.
Captain Daniel Couwenberg and Adam Decicco both missed the game, withdrawing late with an illness, but it didn’t cost the Bombers.
Late replacement Liam Guinan stepped up in just his second senior game of the season to be named LG’s best.
LG coach Matt Hawken was pleased with the result, but realised how much his side would need to improve to break through for an elusive premiership.
‘‘It’s a good result, an ugly win, but job done,’’ he said.
‘‘It wasn’t one for the spectators, but we defended really well and I guess our win was based on that.
‘‘There’s a lot to tidy up, but we got the job done.’’
The Bombers entered with the confidence of two wins already this season against the Hoppers, and played as such in the first quarter to take a 16-point advantage from it.
Seven scoring shots to one highlighted the period but the inaccurate 3.4 return kept Colbinabbin within reach.
‘‘Our first quarter was very good, but we missed a few opportunities, our conversion was quite poor,’’ Hawken said.
‘‘We certainly had control, but there was no scoreboard pressure.’’
The high-pressure game continued but the polished LG defence wouldn’t let the Hoppers through, the side allowing an average of less than 40 points a game since its second bye keeping them to just 13 points in the first half.
The Bombers led by 25 at the half but were challenged in the third quarter as Colbinabbin lifted the intensity.
But a shocking 1.5 return for the term let LG off the hook, the Hoppers wasting their chance to tighten the game up with the Bombers still four goals ahead at three-quarter-time.
And they shut the Hoppers down completely in the last not allowing a single score, 4.4 (28) of their own completing the 52-point triumph.
Jack Dye joined Perri as LG’s multiple goalkickers snagging two goals, while Daniel Coates, Jackson McEwen and Joel Donohue were other standouts.
Hawken said the defensive work had been a clear standout.
‘‘All Colbo’s dangerous players were kept in check,’’ he said.
‘‘Hoby Bussey was good on Nick Knight, we kept (Damien) Carmody quiet, and Logan Prout, Brady Hore, Brad Ladson and Mitch Bruns; the defensive pressure was fantastic.’’
He was also thrilled with best-on-ground Guinan.
‘‘The conditions suited him, but he played a fantastic, really strong game and with that performance he’ll only be getting better going forward,’’ he said.
The win set up another blockbuster meeting between the Bombers and North Bendigo, this time to be played in Lockington for a grand final spot.
The teams each have a win against each other this season, Saturday’s loser to make use of its double chance and play in the preliminary final.
But Hawken noted his side would need to play better than it had in the scrappy win.
‘‘When we got the ball out at stoppages, we used it poorly and we’ll need to be better by foot and hand,’’ he said.
‘‘But it’s nice to get through the first final. We weren’t near our best but we’ve been able to keep Colbo to three goals.’’