THE footy gods smiled on Robe when an into-the-breeze goal after the siren by defender Tom Rechner gave his side victory over reigning premiers Mount Burr in a thrilling Mid South East Football League second semi-final at Kalangadoo on Saturday.
With the scores locked away, Rechner had pushed down into the forward line on the soggy south-western flank about 40 metres from goal.
He took a clean mark from a Kane Cuthbertson pass as a few seconds were left on the time-clock and the final was seemingly destined for extra time.
As he moved in for his set shot, the siren sounded but Rechner kept on following through with his kick.
His kick just cleared the goal line and the desperate efforts of the Mozzie defenders in a packed goal square and goal umpire Dean Hampel signalled a six-pointer.
It was Rechner’s first goal for this season and only his seventh major since joining the Roosters at the beginning of 2015.
Rechner was immediately mobbed by his team mates and then the mundane post-match warm down routines were undertaken on the oval.
He told The Border Watch he was confident he could register a score as he had played junior football in the in the forward lines.
“I knew there was not much time left to play,” Rechner said.
“I am not the best of kicks, but if I hit it, it would go through for a score.
“After it left the boot, I knew it was a score.
“I had a few drinks with the boys on Saturday night, but did not get too carried away.
“We have got a grand final coming up.”
Rechner and the other members of the winning team were cheered off the field by large crowd of supporters who are not known for travelling from their coastal base.
After seven seasons without a final, their team looked to be on the mat at the five minute mark of the third term when it faced a deficit of 31 points.
However, Robe slammed on 9.6 while conceding a mere 3.5 to the Mozzies in a half of football.
The Roosters have now taken the direct route to the MSEFL grand final at Glencoe on September 15 and can look forward to playing in their first season decider since 2011 – which they lost to Mount Burr.
It has been a remarkable 14 months for Robe since club officials publicly queried its future as part of their plea for an additional allocation of player transfer points.
The Mozzies now have to face up to a revived Kalangadoo in the cut-throat preliminary final on the Nangwarry Oval on Saturday.
Coming into the match, Robe had six players under injury or availability clouds, but only injured Ben Vedic missed the match.
His side wore black armbands to honour the memory of 1968 premiership player Ali Mader who died last month.
Over in the Mount Burr camp, two first-choice players were missing, while a third key player was the subject of a hoax on social media which wrongly claimed he had hurt a knee at Thursday night’s training session.
The Mozzies ran onto the oval behind skipper Brodie Hennink and no special honour was accorded at that time to veteran Dale Bowering, who set a new Mount Burr record of 366 senior games.
The seasiders had the first advantage of a three-goal breeze favouring the northern end and had the first major on the board at the three-minute mark from Lewis Crawford.
Team mate Jake Pitt followed up with another soon after and had to endure the taunts of the opposition as he successfully converted a set shot.
The playing surface was proving to be satisfactory, as shown by the ability of Mount Burr onballer Dylan Ridley to go on a long run with three bounces.
Mount Burr finally registered a goal through a clever snap by Hayden Schultz at the 10-minute mark.
Each team scored a goal in the remaining 18 minutes of the play as the coastal team took a narrow five-point lead into quarter time.
This was soon wiped out in the second term as five individual Mozzies booted unanswered goals.
Cuthbertson and Andrew Everett got goals against the flow of play, before Henry Crauford and Tommy Hales both converted from soft free kicks to give Mount Burr a 25-point lead at the long break.
Going into the breeze, Ridley booted the opening goal of the second half and Robe looked likely to be sent to the preliminary final.
Remarkably, Rooster coach Jack Kelly inspired a come-back and his two goals and four others took his team’s lead to three points at the final change.
In his final address to his players, Mount Burr coach Tom Renzi implored them to slow down the momentum of the play.
“We have to have level heads and play calm and mature football,” Renzi said.
“We cannot turn the ball over and I do not want to see them break tackles.”
Renzi led from the front in the last stanza and his two goals gave him a game-high tally of four.
There were few easy kicks in the final 28 minutes of the match as the lead changed hands and the scores were locked up for periods.
The deadlock in a quality final was finally broken by the heroics of Rechner.
Retiring Hatherleigh coach Jase Faulkner praised the good umpiring exhibitions provided by Heath Case, Travis Lockwood and “Ben” Young.
“It was an entertaining game to watch because of the pressure and the skill,” Faulkner said.
“There were many good players out there and my best were Robe’s Zack Deane and Mount Burr’s Cory Gamble and James Wallis.”
Saturday’s crowd paid $12,830 at the gate.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the Mozzies showed enough good form to retain their premiership favourite status in their clash with the Kalangadoo Magpies.