PENOLA locked itself into third place on the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara football ladder in Saturday’s final minor round clash against Border Districts.
The Eagles took to their home ground and after a three-quarter arm wrestle, pulled away with a solid finish to record a 12-point victory.
Coach Matt Tilby was pleased to claim the win and with it a second chance in the finals.
“It was fantastic to get the points over Border Districts,” he said.
“It sort of took us all game to break the back of them, but to finally kick a couple of goals late in the game to seal it was fantastic.”
Border Districts won the toss and elected to kick with the wind in the opening term, but Penola held firm to still take a four-point lead into the first change.
According to Tilby, the Eagles then dominated play in the second quarter, but a slight “lack in composure and skills” left the game up for grabs at the long break.
“We went in at half time and I felt like we could be comfortably in front, but we were not,” Tilby said.
“We addressed that a bit at half time and went back out and again worked hard into the wind.
“We then finished the game with the wind behind us – it had probably dropped off a bit by then.”
Penola ran it home in the final term to score 4.4 to the guests’ 2.3 and carry momentum into its finals campaign this week.
Simon Berkefeld was again a beacon of light and his effort in all areas of the ground earned him the best-on-ground honours.
“Simon won plenty of the footy and finished with three goals as well,” Tilby said.
“He covered a lot of ground and worked really hard, which was great.”
He was joined by Brock Egan and Alex Moore at the top end of performers, while the ever-consistent Brad Bryant made his 13th appearance in the best from 15 games in his debut season with the
“Alex Moore at centre-half back was fantastic,” Tilby said.
“He has had a huge season for us and it was just another great game from him.
“And Brock has just gotten better and better towards the tail end of the year.
“He had a few injuries, but he has now adjusted well and his game on Saturday was probably his best for the club so far.
“He kicked a couple of really timely goals and had the composure and poise at the end of the game to finish off.”
Another positive sign to come from Saturday’s game was the list of goal scorers.
Often this season it has solely been the services of Adam and Brad Merrett in the forward line which has produced the figures, but four Eagles all kicked multiple goals on the weekend.
Berkefeld led the charge, while Egan, plus Adam and Brad Merrett contributed two each.
“I think it is quite good we are not relying on just Adam and Brad Merrett to kick all our goals,” Tilby said.
“It makes us a little bit less predictable heading into the finals series.”
Tilby said looking into finals he feels the team is “in a really good spot.”
“Our last three weeks since getting our full side back together has been really good,” he said.
“We have really only had one, maybe two bad quarters out of those 12, which is pretty good against quality opposition.
“I certainly head into the series with a lot of confidence and feel really positive about this Saturday playing Lucindale up at Kaniva.”
If Penola wins on Saturday, it will progress to the second semi-final against ladder leader Mundulla on August 31.
However, a loss will see the Eagles make use of their second chance and lock horns with the winner of Sunday’s elimination final between Naracoorte and Ka