Oakleigh steal victory from the jaws of defeat

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Oakleigh Chargers 9.10 (64)
Geelong Falcons 9.9 (63)

Oakleigh goals: T. McLean 2, L. Kinsella, L. Waddell, B. Crocker, K. Answerth, A. Urban, J. Mahon, T. Phillips.
Geelong goals: A. Christensen 4, P. McCartin 2, B. Remmos, J. Maishman, N. Dixon.
Oakleigh best: K. Answerth, D. McKenzie, M. Pittonet, H. Beasley, T. Phillips, L. Kinsella
Geelong best: T. Miles, C. Curnow, J. Maishman, N. Dixon, A. Christensen, L. Melican

The match was billed up as a potential thriller and in the end, there were no superlatives to describe the spectacle that the crowd were fortunate enough to witness.

For 119 of the 120 minutes, the Geelong Falcons led and while never completely looking comfortable, had the Oakleigh Chargers at an arms length. It took just two kicks to change all that.

With just under two minutes to go, Oakleigh’s Jack Mahon had the ball on the tightest of angles about 35 metres out in the non-preferred pocket for a right footer. The Chargers trailed by 11 points and a behind would all but snuff their chances of advancing through to the preliminary final. The moment it hit his boot it never looked like missing, as if he’d done it a million times before.

The Chargers will the ball forward from the next clearance, kicking it off the ground, dragging it forward at every chance. There was a stoppage in the forward fifty with less than 30 seconds to go. Would Geelong manage to hold on? Or could Oakleigh manufacture something?

The ruck contest tapped down away from goal before the tricky number 34, Toby McLean pounced and with a burst of speed, snapped it round his body. His reaction was immediate. Players from everywhere flooded him, they knew there wasn’t much time left and they’d done the impossible.

The siren went not long after and Oakleigh players, staff and fans flooded the ground, almost not believing what they had witnessed. Oakleigh captain Darcy Moore even remarked to TAC Cup Radio “Did that really just happen?”. It was a memorable moment and one that those players will remember for a long time.

One must not forget the other side of the coin – the complete devastation and shock by the Geelong Falcons players. Having defeated Oakleigh by that exact margin – 1 point – a fortnight prior, they knew they would need to be good – and they were for nearly 120 minutes. Unfortunately easy misses came back to haunt them.

Charles Curnow hit the post from the goal square, Paddy McCartin uncharacteristically missed a couple of shots he’d normally nail and most of the forwards were nullified bar Aaron Christensen.

Throughout the match, Geelong had Oakleigh at an arm’s length – but that lead was slowly being chiselled down each quarter. At quarter time, the Falcons led by 14 points, keeping the Chargers goalless in the opening term. By half time, that margin had reduced to two goals and then just five points heading into the last quarter.

The last quarter was tight before Geelong managed to kick away and seemingly be home with just two minutes left. Oakleigh rolled the dice and got akin to double sixes, hitting the front with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Kade Answerth was best on ground with 26 disposals, eight handball receives, four marks, three tackles and a goal to be voted the Bound For Glory News Man of the Match. Hugh Beasley was sensational on Paddy McCartin, nullifying him while also providing some run despite the lock down role. The mozzies up forward were  busy in Liam Kinsella and Toby McLean, constantly giving the opposition headaches.

For the Falcons, Teia Miles was their best four quarter performer, while Joe Maishman was great and Darcy Parish was very impressive before injuring himself in the third quarter. Aaron Christensen found the goals with four majors while Paddy McCartin booted two but should have had a few more.

The two injuries from the match were Jordan DeGoey who injured himself in the first quarter, as well as Darcy Parish, both who will be looked at during the week as to whether they’ll play the next match. The Falcons meet the Dandenong Stingrays in the semi-final while the Chargers get a week off to face the winner of North Ballarat and  Sandringham.

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