Another week, another hard-fought finals win for Avenel.
The Swans moved one step closer to redemption for last year’s grand final loss with a gritty 25-point win over Stanhope on Sunday.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win nonetheless, and aside from the final quarter when the flood gates opened there was less than a kick in it for the majority of the game.
The first quarter was frantic, and Avenel was probably lucky to only trail by three points at quarter time.
Stanhope certainly had the better of the Swans in the first quarter, but luckily for the Swans, it couldn’t convert that dominance on the scoreboard.
The Lions booted 1.4 for the term, with each of those behinds gettable shots, while Avenel made good use of the few times the ball went in to its forward line and kicked 1.1 for the term.
The Swans’ solitary goal in the opening quarter came from Mitch Thomas, who was brilliant all day.
The opening half was far from the slick finals football you might expect. With intensity at an all-time high, both sides butchered the ball in front of goal, particularly in the second term.
Avenel kicked 1.6 for the quarter, while Stanhope mustered 2.4 to extend its lead slightly to seven points at the main break.
Lachie Drummond opened up proceedings in the third term with an early goal, and when Nick Goodwin booted the ball through for a major from the 50m line mid-way through the term, it was the first time the Swans had hit the front all day.
The joy didn’t last long, with Stanhope answering straight back with a goal, before the Swans ended the quarter with another goal to give them a four-point lead at the last break.
The last quarter was all Avenel, which slammed on four goals to none in the final term to record the 25-point win.
In the absence of full-forward Chris Burton, who is unlikely to play again this season, Cael McCarthy stood tall up forward for the Swans and kicked two crucial final quarter goals, while Thomas added another to his tally in the final term to also end the game with two goals.
But credit must go to the Swans’ back line, which was typically brilliant all game.
Scott Tyers was outstanding, Lachie McKenzie proved his worth to the team and had his opponent well covered, while John Green played the game of his life against much-hyped Lions full-forward James Gray.
Gray had booted 12 goals in his last two outings, but Green was having none of the sort in Sunday’s game and kept the spearhead goal-less.
Avenel now faces minor premier Violet Town in Saturday’s preliminary final.
The Swans haven’t beaten the Towners yet this season, but they have come close — the two sides clashed in round five and Avenel went down by 10 points, while in round 18, the Towners were too good again with a 22-point win.