By Tyler Lewis
A blistering final term from the Calder Cannons has halted the rampaging Dandenong Stingrays, edging them out of their premiership defence in Sunday’s elimination final.
The Cannons slammed home six goals in the last term to run away with the 11.9 (75) to 5.9 (39) victory.
After slugging it out for the opening stages of the match, Ned Cahill tumbled a ball to a leading Clayton Gay who ran around onto his trusty left-boot to kick start the Rays.
It was a scrappy affair with only one major either side to the first interval, but late in the term it threatened to open up with the swift ball movement from the likes of Lachlan Williams and Will Lewis driving Dandenong forward.
The second term saw the Rays extend their margin to three goals before the Cannons bit back with back-to-back goals including one on the half-time siren.
For the third term, the sides were inseparable – Kobi George nailed his first from a smooth moving rove while Luca Goonan and Jack Toner continued to find the footy at will.
Leading by only three points at the final break, a thriller loomed.
Unfortunately for the Rays, the Cannons found another gear and kicked away with the six-goal victory.
For many of the top age Stingrays, the most important time of the year will begin – for the bottom agers it is time to prepare for the all-important draft year.
In the meantime in the Eastern Football League, Rowville went down in its elimination final to South Croydon, 7.8 (50) to 12.15 (87).
A best-afield performance wasn’t quite enough for the Hawks as a goalless second term kept them at bay for the remainder of the match.
A five-goal premiership term clawed Rowville back into the match but they seemed to have given it all as the Dogs burst into a semi-final next week.
In the qualifying final, Ex-Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade guided his Balwyn side into a semi-final clash against Vermont with a 15.10 (100) to 10.10 (70) victory over Blackburn.
Blackburn will take on South Croydon in another do-or-die match-up.
In Southern Football League Division 2, the Doveton Eagles have knocked Keysborough out of the finals race in straight sets.
The Eagles kicked five unanswered majors in the second term to storm away to a handy buffer, before being tested in the final term by the fast-finishing Gulls.
The Beers, Matt and Nick paired for a finals winning performance while Nick Battle and Adam Read both converted twice.
For the Gulls, although only booting the one major, Chris Bryan was best afield.
Matt Carnelley continued his love affair with booting three majors for the Gulls as he put another triple to his name for the 10th time this season.
The Eagles will now play Murrumbeena in the preliminary final on the weekend with a full head of steam from back-to-back finals wins.
In Division 3, Endeavour Hills will be ruing letting Clayton off to the start it did in the preliminary final as the Hills were unable to claw back the quarter time margin.
Clayton booted six goals to the Hills four behinds in the first stanza and the margin remained similar for the remainder of the match as the Pies booked a spot in the big dance, 14.9 (93) to 7.11 (53).
Sam Delosa slotted three for the Hills while Chris Morrison was the best for Clayton. Clayton will now face Hampton Park in the grand final in attempt to cause a boil over.
The Redbacks and Pies met only two weeks ago where the Redbacks won by seven goals.
And in Division 4, the second term separated the Frankston Dolphins and South Yarra.
The Lions kicked five unanswered majors in the second term and it consequently proved the difference in the 9.8 (62) to 6.8 (44) victory.
The win for South Yarra has set up a top of the table grand final clash between the Lions and Lyndhurst who played in the qualifying only two weeks ago where the Lightning won by 23 points.