MOAMA has locked up a home elimination final and made a big statement to the rest of the Murray Football League competition with a win against defending champion Nathalia at Moama Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
It will be back there this Sunday to host Mulwala in an elimination final showdown, despite the Lions finishing higher on the Murray Football League ladder.
The Magpies will enter that game in brilliant form, a consistent performance allowing them to get on top of the Purples early, with enough left in the tank to see off a final-quarter challenge.
With seconds left in the game the Purples were within a goal, but Moama forward Tyler Jones stepped up with his third goal of the final term to put the result beyond doubt.
The Magpies have now pushed Barooga and beaten Nathalia in consecutive weeks, encouraging the side its best is good enough to take the challenge right up to the league’s best sides.
‘‘We won’t get too carried away, but it’s good to know we can capitalise on our opportunities and belong as one of the league’s top sides,’’ Moama coach Mark Lloyd said.
‘‘On our day we’re confident to beat anyone but we need to make sure the effort is there and that we bring our A game.
‘‘We felt a win like that had been brewing for a while. We’ve played some really good footy, the week before our second half was really promising and we were able to bring that against Nathalia for a really satisfying win.
‘‘A lot of our guys hadn’t beaten Nathalia before, so it was nice to get that monkey off our backs and get some reward for effort.’’
The game was close throughout, but the Mowers seemed to take a match-winning lead late in the third term with the last three goals of the period, including two to Lachie Collins.
But the Purples responded with the first three of the last to bring the margin to a goal, before Jones answered with two of his own.
They fought back again, but Moama had the answers, another performance giving the side confidence it has what it takes to topple more fancied sides.
‘‘At three-quarter-time we had a handy lead but we knew they would come at us; they have experienced players and play the Moama ground really well with two grand final wins there, so I’m sure they were still pretty confident,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘To our credit, we held strong and were able to stem the flow, and kick some crucial goals.
‘‘It’s great to see the boys develop and get experience beating a quality side. They stayed strong to keep cool and stick to the game-plan; the most pleasing thing was to see them execute under pressure.’’
Noah Wheeler and Collins joined Jones in kicking three goals, Rhys Archard named the side’s best for a second week running.
Lloyd said his side had excelled most when the arm-wrestle of a game opened up.
‘‘The more the game opened up, the more confident we were feeling,’’ he said. ‘‘We needed to make sure we kept the game as free-flowing as we could, and that gave our forwards some good opportunities.
‘‘We had a strong mindset from the start and played four good quarters.’’
The Magpies will quickly turn their attention to Mulwala for Sunday’s massive elimination final.
The sides traded wins during 2017, Moama claiming the most recent encounter between the sides 94-83 in round 15.