Robins hold off determined Magpies
Monday, 1st August, 2011
They were gallant, they were brave and they were determined, but in the end Central were beaten by West who are now headed to the Preliminary Final.
The final margin of 26 points was enough to secure the Robins a well deserved berth in September and a shot at their first Premiership since 1990.
At the halfway mark of the final quarter Central were just seven points in arrears and were throwing everything at West, but consecutive goals to Chad Ryan, Nathan Kickett and Greg Conway closed the door on what has been a frustrating year for the black and white.
While it is mathematically possible for Central to feature in the finals it is more unlikely than likely. They have to win their final four games and hope West lose all their remaining matches.
Even the most optimistic Magpie supporter wouldnít take those odds.
As a spectacle the match did not reach any great heights, but as a contest it was fierce and played in an uncompromising fashion by both teams.
The first quarter started with Central heading towards Patton Street and they lined Adam Rhodes up at full forward with Jackson McInnes at centre half forward.
West had young gun Heath Harris at centre half back while John Blore had the job on the big full forward.
Within the first minute of the game Rueben Hayden had his first goal for the day, playing across half forward the silky mover looked in ominous touch, but the Magpies hit back against the flow of play to kick a pair to McClure and Goodlet.
As rain began to fall Kickett and Martin booted two late majors to give West a handy eight point lead at the first break.
Quarter Time: West 3.6 (24) Central 2.4 (16)
The Robins may have been in front but it did not stop Coach Dale Tonkin from delivering his most vocal address of the season.
The normally placid Tonkin was not impressed by what he had just witnessed and left his charges in no doubt an improvement was required.
The spray did not have the desired impact as the Magpies big forwards in Rhodes and McInnes kicked a goal each to give Central the lead early in the term.
At this stage West moved Harris forward and Teelow onto McInnes, while Central made some changes of their own with Mannion given the job on Hayden.
The Robins defence was holding firm in the face of a mini Magpie onslaught, Jono Naden was superb across half back while the veteran, Darren Zanette was impressive against his old club.
As the clock ticked down Hayden put the Robins back in front by three points before Rose closed the quarter out with a brilliant snap.
Half Time: West 5.8 (38) Central 4.4 (28)
With the game and their season on the line, Magpie boss Des Hinton moved Digby Schinckel forward, Brenton Zanette into the middle and gave James McClure the job on Brent Rose who had been a damaging player in the first half.
The moves worked as Rhodes continued to trouble West with three strong marks. The big forward failed to capitalise though as he booted one goal and missed two easy shots.
A strong pack mark by Ben Camilleri followed by a goal gave the Magpies back the lead as they lead West by five points.
The West bench then got their team back into the game, moving Darren Zanette to full back on Rhodes and Hayden to the goal square where he was one out against Mannion.
It worked as the Robins kicked four in a row, two of those to the hard working Kiernan McCunnie, with singles to Hayden and Martin.
The Magpies then managed to hit back with a goal to Rhodes, before Rueben Hayden stepped up to the plate.
As the siren sounded Hayden was tucked deep in the grandstand side forward pocket at the airport end, with the breeze in his face he coolly and calmly kicked a brilliant goal to give West a 20 point lead.
Three Quarter Time: West 10.10 (70) Central 7.8 (50)
Once again Des Hinton was forced to dig deep and find a match winning formula, he shifted his key forward Jackson McInnes into the middle and moved Mannion off Hayden and back on the ball.
As Central had a slight two goal breeze Dale Tonkin moved Hayden to a half back flank while a subdued Rose was sent to full forward and McClure never left his side.
When Shane Dalby snapped a beauty it looked like West was home but the Magpies stepped up with goals to Camilleri, McInnes and Mannion.
The margin was back to seven points and it was game on, but three late goals to West put the issue beyond doubt.
They were wonderfully lead in the dying stages of the game by Chad Ryan in the centre and Rueben Hayden and Jono Naden across half back.
While the Robins coaching staff will not admit publicly they are in the Preliminary Final, behind closed doors the players were told to prepare for an intensive three weeks of running as more fitness is sought for that extra edge in September.
They were well served on Saturday by the beautifully balanced and skilful Jono Naden, he was my choice as best player while McCunnie, Hayden, Ryan, Agius and Milne all did their bit.
A special mention to the two Heaths in Harris and Teelow, they both show plenty of promise and both look ten year players for the Robins.
For Central none were better than Brenton Zanette, either across half back or on the ball he was terrific with his marking and desire.
Camilleri and Heath tried their hardest, McClure shut down Rose after half time, Rhodes was a colossus in the forward half but let himself down with some easy misses, Schnickel gave his all while Wilmore and Mannion had their moments.
Next Saturday we should have a sneak peak of what to expect in September when West return to Alma Oval to confront their likely Preliminary Final opponents in South.
I canít wait.
Final Score: West 14.11 (95) defeated Central 10.9 (69)
Best Players: (W) Jono Naden, Kiernan McCunnie, Rueben Hayden, Chad Ryan, Nick Agius, Daniel Milne, Darren Zanette, Heath Teelow, Shane Dalby.
(C) Brenton Zanette, Ben Camilleri, Justin Heath, James McClure, Digby Schnickel, Adam Rhodes, Brad Mannion, Karl Wilmore.
Goalkickers: (W) Rueben Hayden 4, Brett Martin 2, Kiernan McCunnie 2, Nathan Kickett 2, Chad Ryan , Brent Rose , Shane Dalby , Greg Conway .
(C) Adam Rhodes 3, Ben Camilleri 2, Jackson McInnes 2, James McClure , Brad Mannion , Matt Goodlet .
Reserves: West 17.9 (111) defeated Central 3.4 (22)