Finals near

August 30, 2017

Cobram's Nic Hoban hangs on strongly to the ball under pressure in the match against Deniliquin on Saturday.

The final round of home and away matches saw some big wins across the MFL last weekend.

As expected, Barooga polished off Congupna with ease, and in the local match, Cobram relished its chance to show some teeth, with a well-earned 73-point victory at Scott Recreation Reserve.

The Tigers lagged Deniliquin in the first quarter, but took the lead with some fierce contested football and after the main break simply ran away from their visitors to put a host of goals on the scoreboard.

“We’ve got a young group of players and Cobram had more experience and bigger bodies which we couldn’t match,” senior Deniliquin coach Gary Parsons said.

“We started well in the first quarter and really came out firing, but the experience and endurance of the opposition took its toll as the game went on.

“Our players gave it their all in the contest despite their size disadvantage but they were simply outsized.”

Finals are next for Barooga - the Hawks will confront a shattered Echuca United at Lonsdale Reserve in Mulwala on Saturday in the Murray Football League’s first elimination final.

In the last home and away game of the season United was smashed by 139 points by league leader Numurkah; scoring just one goal for the game and that didn’t come until the third quarter.

But Hawks co-coach Tyrone Downie is more focused on the good form of his team than he is on the worst result in Echuca United’s history.

Because last time the sides met the Eagles turned the table on the Hawks and went home with a 16-point win.

Downie said his team’s strong form through the back half of the season has been the key to its storming run home.

“We’ve had great form over the last month to come home very strongly in the back half of the season,” Tyrone said.

“We’re really happy with our end-season form, especially after we suffered a few costly defeats during the middle of the year,” he said.

“It’ll be business as usual for us to start off our finals campaign, so hopefully we can continue to roll through with our strong form of the past month.

“Echuca was able to control the game very well when we played them earlier in the season and they didn’t let us get the ball flowing.

“We were limited in what we were able to do, but I think we have the players to withstand the pressure this week and throughout the finals.

Though cliched, the ‘one week at a time’ philosophy is how Downie said the team would use take on the finals.

“I think we have a reasonable side without too many weaknesses and we’ll be hoping to bring the fight to the best sides in the competition for the matches to come.

“It always starts with defence if you want to go well in finals, so that’s going to be a key aspect of our game that will need to be strong from the outset.’’

Plans for 2018 are aimed at continuing the Hawks strong form from this year, although the buildup for the new season isn’t playing on the teams mind just yet.

“We’re not looking to change too much for 2018, although right now our focus has to be on the finals series and getting as deep into them as we can.”

Two of the teams who weren’t able to secure a spot in the finals were Cobram and Deniliquin, rounding out their seasons in seventh and eighth respectively.

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