LANCASTER is one win away from making the Kyabram District Football League grand final from sixth place after a comprehensive win over Stanhope in Sunday’s cut-throat first semi-final at Undera.
The Corey Carver-coached Wombats now face rebounding reigning premier Tallygaroopna in the preliminary final at Dookie this Saturday, with the winner to take on Nagambie in the season decider at Mooroopna on Saturday week.
Nagambie firmed to favouritism to win the flag after crushing Tallygaroopna for the second time in three weeks in the second semi-final at Nagambie on Saturday.
X Lancaster had its foot down from the start against Stanhope and ran out 50-point winners in another impressive finals display.
The Wombats were up and about early and always had scoreboard pressure on the Lions, who had trouble countering the intensity of their rival.
Carver had praise for all 21 players who took the field for Lancaster.
‘‘We weren’t accurate early but we put in a lot of hard work and effort and got the result we were after. It was a real team effort but we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. Our focus is now on Tally this Saturday and nothing else,’’ Carver said immediately the victory that followed the team’s shock success over Avenel in a qualifying final the previous week.
Lancaster’s key prime movers in the game were the Cerrone brothers — Tanner on a wing and Zac on a forward flank.
Both added scoreboard pressure on the Lions, with a total of five goals between them.
Tom Davies in the midfield also continued his stellar finals form and he and onballer Nic Ross were key playmakers for the Wombats.
Lancaster’s defence, led by Besim Besim, also stood up again, restricting Stanhope to five goals for the game.
Carver also had generous praise for his team’s forwards, particularly Billy and Nic Ryan, who along with Zac Cerrone worked hard to keep the ball in Lancaster’s forward zone.
Billy contributed three goals in the blustery conditions.
Stanhope was best served by Nathan O’Reilly, Sam Woodward, Jamie Spencer and Stuart Trevena who got most support from Alec Young and Jorge Maxwell.
x Nagambie belted minor premier Tallygaroopna by 99 points in an awesome display at Nagambie in the second semi-final.
The Lakers were always in command and were led in inspiring fashion by coach Anthony Haysom, who kicked five five goals in a best-afield performance.
Haysom got great support from Dan Fitzpatrick, Steve Barber and David Comi, while Cam Rooney and Mark Wilson were also prominent in what was an impressive team effort.
The Redlegs had triers in Mat Pianto, Shaun Cuthbert, Brett Sheriff and Hugh Anderson but a lot of their key playmakers went missing on the day.
Tally is now confronting a straights sets exit from the finals series unless it can turn its form around against the surging Lancaster, a side it has beaten twice late in the season.
Lancaster thirds rallied in the last quarter to pinch a thrilling two-point win over Shepparton East to move into another grand final.
The reigning premier was 19 points down at three-quarter time in a dour, low scoring slog but kicked three last-quarter goals while holding its rival scoreless.
The Wombats were led to victory by Billy Preddy, Tom Clark and Jackson Barnett, who were well supported by Noah Sewell, Sam Jackson and Matt Fleming.
X Stanhope kept its flag hopes alive with an 18-point first semi-final win against Merrigum.
It now meets Shepparton East in the preliminary final this Saturday to decide Lancaster’s grand final rival.
Merrigum kicked itself out of the game, slotting 14 behinds to go with its four goals.
Zayne Gilbert, with four goals, kicked half of Stanhope's goals in the game — he and Harrison Wilkie, Declan Thomson, Daniel Brock and Ricky Glass were best for the Lions.
For Merrigum, Chris Haines, Jytte Barron and Noah Bantancourt were in everything, with support from Ethan McLaren and Byron Hodgson.
by Gus Underwood