The third edition of McPherson Media Group’s Best Battles series is upon us, with this round featuring some absolute thrillers, milestones and historic games.
Remember to send in your thoughts about which battles have been chosen and which others between the sides you remember fondly.
Nathalia v Finley
Grand final, 2016 at Moama Recreation Reserve
Nathalia 11.11 (77) d Finley 11.8 (74)
The Purples know how to win a grand final, but that does not mean they always do it the easy way.
In the 2016 decider against Finley, Nathalia trailed by as much as 34 points in the second term before roaring home for a famous three-point win.
It took a Brodie Ross pearler at the 25th minute mark of the final term to put the Purples in front — a lead they only had to hold for a few minutes to taste the ultimate success.
Nathalia had a number of stars on Saturday, forward duo Ross and Brett Vallender proved the difference, with midfield ace Bowen Smith, the versatile Tom Nihill, Liam Evans, Ash Quinn and impressive Alistair Corry all playing pivotal roles in the cause.
Finley’s best included the tireless Ned Morrison, Ollie Ford, Grant Patrick Smith, Jed Brain, Jordan Daniel, Ben McKie and ruckman Tim Robertson.
Finley coach Rob Daniel, a player when the Cats were last crowned kings of the MFL in 1988, expressed nothing but pride in his team following the heartbreaking defeat.
‘‘We made a couple of fundamental mistakes towards the end that hurt us, but I was proud as punch about the way they went about it,’’ Daniel said.
‘‘I told the boys to keep their heads up and be proud of what they’ve achieved. They’ve had a very good season, but we couldn’t quite cap it off.
‘‘We went through some tough times in 2008, 2009 and 2010 going through the drought when we didn’t win a game.
‘‘The crowd stuck with us whether we were winning or losing, and they were with us today,’’ Daniel said post-match.
Deniliquin v Echuca United
Round one, 2019 at Hardinge St Oval
Deniliquin 12.8 (80) lt Echuca United 13.4 (82)
Heading into the first game of last season, Echuca United was expected to make light work of the Rams.
But the home side almost sent shockwaves through the competition.
In a topsy-turvy clash, the Eagles were forced to come from behind in the last term after the home side kicked the first three goals of the quarter.
Nic Denahy, Phil Hubbard and Bailey Sawyer stood tall for United in a tough contest.
Rams onballer Todd Gallagher (three goals) was a clear-cut best on ground, with brother-in-law Adrian Pappin also impressive with three goals of his own.
Anthony Bull and John Anstee played an outstanding game in defence, keeping former AFL player Josh Mellington to just two first quarter goals, with onballer Ricky Gittens, Josh Whelan — playing at centre half forward — defender Dylan East and forward Jayden Pitts (two goals) also having notable games.
Picola & District League:
Tocumwal v Mathoura
Round six, 2014 at Mathoura
Mathoura 11.7 (73) lt Tocumwal 14.17 (101)
The Bloods were able to create their own bit of history in this game as they won their first meeting against Mathoura after crossing from the Murray league.
After trailing at the main break, the visitors kicked into gear in the second half kicking 10 goals to six to storm away with the victory.
Dylan Flanagan was a strong presence up forward for the Bloods with four goals, while several others kicked two.
‘‘It’s the one we wanted to win to set ourselves up,’’ Mathoura coach Mick McInnes said of his team’s performance.
‘‘It was probably one that got away from us because I think we had enough of the footy.”
Berrigan v Blighty
Round four, 2017 at Blighty Recreation Reserve
Blighty 8.18 (66) d Berrigan 8.9 (57)
Blighty ground out a nine-point win when it met Berrigan early in the 2017 Picola league north-west division season.
The undefeated Redeyes were outplayed by the Saints in the first half, but the visitors kicked a wasteful 2.9, meaning Blighty could take a seven-point lead to the half.
Shocking goal-kicking accuracy remained a theme as the Redeyes booted 4.14 in the second half, but they hung on for the win with Sam Singleton, Jack Tyndall and Brayden Hall impressive.
Matthew Mahon, Jye Adamson and key forward Mark McQualter (three goals) were also impressive. But Blighty coach Jack Tyndall was thoroughly unimpressed with the display.
‘‘We were lucky to get away with the win to be honest. If we play like we did on Saturday against a side like Picola or Strathy then we will be in for a big loss.’’
Yarroweyah v Jerilderie
Round 10, 2019 at Yarroweyah
Yarroweyah 6.9 (45) lt Jerilderie 8.10 (58)
With scores level at three-quarter time, and finals action still a possibility for both sides, this clash came down to who wanted it more.
In a scrappy final term, the Demons proved they were up for the fight, kicking the only two majors of the stanza for a 13-point triumph.
Adam Kent and Nick Parker were influential for the visitors, while for the Hoppers it was Marcus Hill and Stephen Marshall.
Yarroweyah would eventually rue the loss, missing finals by a game and on percentages.
Picola United v Deniliquin Rovers
Round 13, 2014 at Memorial Park
Deniliquin 12.12 (84) d Picola 7.9 (51)
Season 2014 was a year to forget for the Rovers. They won only one game for the year, which came on this day against Picola United.
The Roos slotted five last-quarter goals to down Picola Utd by 33 points in what was a fitting tribute to battle weary forward Liam ‘Bones’ Fleming, who played his 200th senior game.
The stirring victory had the Roos’ faithful in raptures at game’s end as the players hoisted Fleming onto their shoulders to leave the field.
‘‘This is probably the best win I’ve been involved with at Rovers...the feeling was up there with grand finals,’’ Fleming said after the match.
‘‘It’s great to have a win in what’s been a pretty tough year.”
Terry Lumbar (four) and Matthew Johnson (three) led the way for the Rovers kicking seven goals between them.
Johnson was named best on ground with seven clearances, seven effective tackles, six contested efforts and his three goals. Marc Braybon, Brendan Hope, Lumbar and Alex Rourke were other star performers for the Roos.