CLAREMONT arm-wrestled its way to a date with New Norfolk in the SFL grand final this Saturday after a thrilling 13-point win against Kingborough in the Preliminary final at KGV last weekend. The teams had met a fortnight earlier and it was a repeat performance by a committed Mapgies outfit. “Again, when the whips were cracking, our boys stood up” Claremont coach Kim Excell told the Mercury newspaper. “The commitment to each other was great, but we haven’t won anything yet.”
Claremont had the jump on the Tigers early, posting the first goal through a clever snap by Matt Bird. Kingborough managed the next two goals, but the Magpies had a boost when Jake Gillie dribbled one through from the pocket and less than a minute later, landed a goal from 50m. The Tigers hit back late in the term before Ash Arnold gave the Pies a three-point lead at quarter time.
In the second stanza Kingborough was kept goalless, adding only two behinds as Justin Wood was superb in defence for the Pies. Inspirational tackles during the quarter by Dave Kamaric and Ben Sweeney gave every player in black and white a huge lift. When Tiger Ash Humphrey was helped from the ground with an ankle injury it appeared the Tigers may have run out of steam.
Claremont power forward Sean Salter took only four minutes in the third quarter to register the Pies’ first goal, before the Tigers struck back with a Jarrod Collis snap. Three minutes later Ash Woodhead split the sticks for the Tigers, and when Billy Lamprill kicked truly the Tigers had fought their way back to a three-point lead at three-quarter time.
Kingborough let the Pies off the hook early in the final term when Lamprill missed a gettable opportunity and from then on Claremont took the game by the scruff of the neck. Gillie, Kamaric and Salter combined to regain the lead and three minutes later Salter sent one soaring through at goal-post height from 50m.
Wood again stood tall in defence for the Pies and when Daniel Fox, Nathan Brown and Salter combined in an end-to-end play it was all over bar the shouting, with Salter nailing his fourth goal and helping his side advance to the grand final by 14 points.
Magpies deputy vice-captain Pat Bedford was named among the best alongside Braden Barwick, Wood, Scott Jones. Former Glenorchy players Kamaric and Salter looked at home on the spacious KGV ground. Kingborough named Matty Schenk, Jordan Lovell, Ryan Fielding, Tim Peterson, Brad Conway and Jack Philp as its best.