By Samantha Newsam
TAMWORTH Kangaroos bounded into the Tamworth AFL competition preliminary final with a 53-point win over Gunnedah at No.1 Oval on Saturday.
The two had met only two weeks ago and the minor semi-final followed a similar script with the Roos setting up the win in the first quarter.
They led 4.2.26 to 1.1.7 at the first break and were never really challenged from there running out 19.15.129 to 12.4.76 victors.
Matt Hodge again proved a thorn in the Bulldogs side kicking six, while Dan Overeem and Mitch Penberthy chipped in with two each, and Chris Gee and Scott Hardy snapped four each for the Bulldogs.
They scored the first seven points of the game, but the Kangaroos answered with four straight goals.
“For us it was a really similar game to last time,” Roos coach Tim Cotter said.
“We set it up in the first quarter.”
The Bulldogs spent most of the time trying to clear it out of their defensive 50.
“The defensive pressure was fantastic from the forward line,” Cotter said.
“Whenever it went in there it wasn’t coming out until we got a goal.”
The other thing that really pleased him was that when they had the wind they didn’t just bomb away.
They looked to kick to players on the run.
“The first half we linked up really well,” Cotter said.
“We kicked to space and we got runners into a bit of space.”
He said it was a really even effort across the field, but thought that Overeem and Daniel Gimbert particularly played an important role.
They were tagged by the best defenders and didn’t necessarily get the glory, but their hard work up front opened up opportunities for others. Ben Coombes also stood up well playing on Gee, while Ryan Painter was strong at the clearances.
Even if he didn’t win it outright he made sure he followed up.
It was a huge effort from the Bulldogs just to make the finals.
The club nearly folded and they lost their first five games.
“We had to pick up from there, but the best part was we had numbers at the end of the year,” Bulldogs coach Errol Lather said.
He said they were just outclassed.
“We couldn’t match them around the ground,” he said.
The plan was to stop the Roos creating the loose man that they are so effective at but they couldn’t quite do that.
“You can only shut down so many good players,” Lather said. “The third quarter was a good quarter.”
They won it but the lead was too much to chase by then.
“(But) It showed the guys put the effort in all game,” Lather said.
“Over the four quarters we just couldn’t match them.”
Matt Pengilly, Andrew George, Paul Brown, John Woolaston, Stu McVittie and Josh Hack were their best.