SENIOR COLTS – NARACOORTE 8.3 (51) d PENOLA 6.9 (45)
PENOLA suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Naracoorte in the fifth round of the 2020 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Junior Football League Senior Colts competition on Saturday.
After leading and controlling the majority of the game, the Eagles agonisingly lost it in the last 30 seconds.
The Demons pushed inside 50 in the closing stages and surrounded the contest with numbers around the ball.
Suddenly, after a brief contested period, a Naracoorte player grabbed the ball out of the pack and snapped it over his head truly to seal the six-point win.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Penola after a promising performance in an entertaining battle.
The Eagles enjoyed a dream start after Samuel Hayes, Darcy Porter and Brad Gartner combined to kick a goal seconds after the opening bounce.
Despite the stunning getaway, Penola did not hold onto its lead as the home side kicked three straight goals to lead by five points at quarter time.
Although the Demons maintained their perfect accuracy in front of goal, the Eagles scored three majors of their own to retake the lead during a high-scoring second term.
Penola’s lead grew into double figures during a third quarter where its defence kept the home side goalless.S
With a 10-point advantage heading into the final stanza, the Eagles were in a prime position to secure the important win.
However, they stalled and found life difficult when it mattered most.
Penola could not kick straight and only managed a pair of behinds, while Naracoorte kicked two goals to level the scores.
With the pressure on and the clock winding down, the Demons found a way past the Eagles’ defence and landed the knock-out punch.
One area Penola let itself down was in front of goal with nine behinds from 15 scoring shots.
The Eagles only scored one goal in the second half, while Naracoorte only missed on three occasions across the entire game.
However, Penola did not give up without a fight and had six individual goal scorers.
Porter was named as best player for the fourth time this season despite receiving plenty of attention from the opposition.
After two consecutive defeats, Penola must beat Keith away from home this Saturday to maintain its top-four position on the ladder.
JUNIOR COLTS – PENOLA 5.4 (34) d NARACOORTE 3.3 (21)
AFTER weeks of toil Penola finally secured its breakthrough win of the 2020 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League Junior Colts competition against Naracoorte on Saturday.
It was a momentous occasion for the young team which has battled through a difficult run of losses and it celebrated in style after its most complete performance of the season.
The Eagles were switched on from the opening bounce and flew out of the blocks with their best first quarter of the year.
A three-goal opening term handed Penola a handy 12-point lead and the home side had no idea what had hit them.
The Demons could not score in the second term as the Eagles locked the ball in their forward half with a man-on-man style of play.
Suddenly Penola enjoyed a 19-point lead at the main break and appeared in an unbeatable position after an impressive half of football.
Although Naracoorte managed to restrict the Eagles’ ability to score in the second half, they continued to dominate possession around the ground.
However, after an even third term on the scoreboard, Penola went goalless in the final quarter as the Demons trimmed the deficit down to 13 points.
That failed to dampen the Eagles’ celebrations and coach Phil Gartner said it was an unforgettable experience after the final siren.
“We sung it (the song) loud and proud on the oval,” he said.
“All the players were pumped and had grins from ear to ear.
“It has done a world of good for their confidence and I could not be happier to be honest.”
It was the perfect response from Penola after a disappointing defeat to Kingston last round and Gartner said the team thrived on some small changes decided during Thursday night’s training session.
“I just told them not to worry about the scoreboard and focus on the little things,” he said.
“We changed a few things in how we play and for some reason all of the kids were just switched on from the start.
“Once we kicked the first goal, you could see them grow on the ground and we pretty much dominated the play all day.”
A man-on-man structure around the ground restricted Naracoorte’s ability to run the ball out of the middle and if the opposition did manage to move forward, it was denied by Cooper Gartner, who played loose one kick behind the play.
The coach said the youngster was a small part of a brilliant team performance, while it was Ned Skeer who put in another best-on-ground performance.
“We would have had 70pc of the entire play and the ball rarely went into our defensive 50,” Phil Gartner said.
“Every time Naracoorte kicked the ball forward Cooper read it and kicked it back into our attacking area.
“Ned has been the best player for the last two weeks and has fitted into the midfield really well.
“Thomas Currie kicked two goals and Alex Merrett played his best game taking some great marks at centre-half back.
“Heidi Berkin played her maiden game as the first girl for Penola in many years and she went really well and Toby Zerk also came back out and added a bit of size to the team.
“I could have given a mention to all of the players.”
After tasting the winning feeling for the first time, Gartner believes the result has given his team a huge boost of confidence for the rest of the season.
“I reckon they will be a different team now and I cannot see them going backwards,” he said.
The Eagles could score another win this weekend when they travel to Keith and play the winless Crows at 10am on Saturday.