AN emotion-charged Kyabram has booked its fourth grand final appearance in the past five years by dismantling Seymour in last Saturday’s GVL second semi-final at Rochester.
The reigning premiers had to deal with a tragedy, which again struck the Pettifer family, on the morning of the game.
Kyabram coach Paul Newman was visibly shattered by the news but was still able to inspire the team’s eight-goal win, its 41st consecutive victory.
The Bombers went into the game without Sam Sheldon, who had a slight hamstring strain and wasn’t risked, and also Luke Morris with a broken foot from the previous week. They were also missing the previous week’s goalsneak hero Kyle Mueller, who suffered a match-ending knee strain in the second term
It was a game in which physicality took centre stage more than skill but as the Bombers have done for the past two seasons they were again up to the challenge when it was presented.
And it was needed three or four times in the game when Seymour looked to be making a serious challenge with their hard-running short, chipping game.
The Bombers won again because of a tight defence and enough goalkicking forwards to do the finishing.
Kayne Pettifer kicked the opening goal of the game — and also the goal of the day at the start of the last quarter — to set the Kyabram machine into action.
But without Pettifer or Mueller making much of an impact Brad Mangan and Hayden Gemmill stepped up to kick three goals each while key forward Billy Burstin snared two goals to keep the Kyabram scoreline ticking over.
Kyabram’s two main inspirational players were defender Lochie Smith and rover Liam Ogden.
Smith had a couple of goals kicked on him early but then took over the air in a commanding display.
He was again well supported by Josh Vick, who played his usual percentage game at full back, while Liam Barrett again did some timely work in the defensive zone.
The Bombers also had another top bullocking game from ruck star Jake Reeves, while Rhys Clark picked up his usual swag of possessions on a wing.
Onballers in Jordan Williams and Nic Coulstock got better as the game progressed and late inclusion Josh Pell also earned his spot with a solid display.
It was far from a pretty win but the desired result was achieved again.
My best for Kyabram were: Lochie Smith, Liam Ogden, Jake Reeves, Brad Mangan, Jordan Williams, Hayden Gemmill, Billy Burstin.
■ KYABRAM reserves didn’t take their chances and paid the penalty in a 30-point loss to minor premier Euroa.
The Bombers now have to beat Shepparton United in a preliminary final at Deakin Reserve this Sunday to follow the senior side into the grand final on Sunday week.
The Bombers were right in the contest for three quarters but missed several easy shots on goal, which came back to haunt them at the finish.
Some undisciplined play in the last quarter allowed Euroa in for some easy goals and a ticket into the season decider.
The Bombers had some good players who kept them in the game.
Brad Anderson in the midfield and in defence was solid all day, as was ruckman Zac Norris.
In defence Brady Corso was a standout with a controlled game, while mobile players in Tom Curnow, Drew Barrett and Michael Pryde did a lot of good work.
Adam Lovison in defence and also on the ball contributed along with Ben McDonell, who looked like the only forward who could take control with some strong grabs, while Kyle Halliwell and Andrew Pryde put in their usual honest games.
Jake Gascoyne also did some work off the interchange bench.
My best for Kyabram were: Brady Corso, Brad Anderson, Zac Norris, Tom Curnow, Michael Pryde, Drew Barrett.
■ KYABRAM thirds’ premiership aspirations are still very much alive after a commanding first semi-final win over Rochester at Euroa on Sunday.
The young Bombers bounced back from straight defeats by Shepparton United, including a qualifying final the previous week, to win by 10 goals in a dominant display.
Kyabram was up and about with the first three goals of the game courtesy of Coby McCarthy, Josh Dillon and Zaid Besim.
Cade Mueller, Curtis Ryan and MacKenzie Ryan were also in the thick of the action as Kyabram seized the early ascendancy, which they maintained for the remainder of the game .
Key forwards Curtis Ryan and Will McDonell provided aerial targets in attack with McDonell booting four first-half goals including three in the second term.
Rochester had trouble penetrating Kyabram’s defence, which was led by Nic Darling in dashing style. He received plenty of support from Layne Holden.
The Bombers had prime movers in Josh Dillon, midfielders Dom Watt and McKenzie Ryan and onballer Coby McCarthy, while big man Kyle Fitzgerald produced his early season form in the second half when he went in the ruck where teammates Ben Napier and Matt Price had been holding their own.
The Bombers also had a busy player in Kane Sewell in what was a good team performance that will instil confidence for this Sunday’s preliminary against Shepparton in which a grand final berth against Shepparton United awaits the winner.
My best for Kyabram were Nic Darling, Dom Watt, McKenzie Ryan, Josh Dillon, Will McDonell, Coby McCarthy, Kyle Fitzgerald and Cade Mueller (in a good team effort).