GRIFFITH is through to their first preliminary final in 11 years after upsetting Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes by nine points on Sunday.
The Swans booted four goals to two in the final term to run over the Goannas in front of a vocal home crowd, winning the first semi-final 11.13 (79) to 11.4 (70) at Exies Oval.
Griffith produced some of their best football of the year to set up a preliminary final showdown with minor premiers Collingullie-Glenfield Park next Sunday.
The Swans trailed for the majority of the day despite having most of the play. MCUE gallantly held the Swans off until the dam walls eventually burst in the final term.
Trailing by three points at three quarter-time, Griffith came out and kicked four of the first five goals of the last quarter to clinch a memorable victory.
The result delivered a brutal straight sets exit for MCUE. The Goannas went from the form team of the competition, and only missing out of the minor premiership by percentage, to season over in the space of a fortnight as injuries derailed their season.
On Sunday however it was the Swans day as they produced a brilliant team performance to keep their season alive.
Griffith coach Adrian Pavese was ecstatic with the win.
“On top of the world,” Pavese said.
“Again, the resilience of the group and the want to stay in the contest. Mango are a quality side and just to grind them down like that was really, really impressive.”
While MCUE led most of the day, the writing was on the wall as Griffith continued to pepper their forward 50. Missed opportunities in front of goal had Pavese worried but he knew the Swans would finish strong, as they did in downing Coolamon in last weekend’s elimination final.
“You’re never confident when you miss shots,” he said.
“At three quarter-time we really did draw on last week. If we can just stay in the contest, stay in the fight, we knew that we would have some good run in the last quarter and thankfully they did it.”
The decision to hold the final at Griffith was a controversial one. MCUE coach Travis Cohalan expressed his club’s bewilderment with it in the lead up to the game, given the Goannas finished the year in second position, compared to the Swans in fourth.
Pavese put his club’s side forward after a satisfying win.
“We travel every second week. We don’t bat an eyelid because we’re in the competition and that’s what the competition serves up,” he said.
“If we want to be part of the competition then we’ve got to make those sacrifices so to actually get the chance at home, we had the chance last year and we didn’t take that chance, this week we got the opportunity and thankfully we rewarded such a big crowd.”
For the Swans, Collingullie-GP await. But not before enjoying theis win first.
“What we’ll do is we’ll enjoy tonight and then we’ll start tomorrow. I’ll let the boys savour this, it’s a wonderful effort by the group and we’ll do our homework tomorrow night. At the moment, we’ll focus on celebrating,” he said.
Griffith had winners all over the ground.
Big ruckman Jacob Barrington enjoyed one of his best games of the year, while Will Griggs was brilliant through the midfield.
Young guns Lucas Conlan and Jack Rowston, along with Sam Daniel, were great in defence, while Guy Orton, James Toscan, Ben King and Heath Northey all played big roles.
For MCUE, Matt Collins was superb on Griffith full-forward Brent Arho, in restricting him to three goals. MCUE co-captain Trent Cohalan also put in a top effort from his team in defeat.