Top teams tumble in flooding footy

Horrendous conditions with waterlogged grounds put a whole new perspective on round 11 of Riddell League football on Saturday.
In the final wash-up sixth placed Wallan impressed in toppling ladder leader Romsey, and second placed Macedon slid to sixth after failing to hold off a last quarter blitz from down the ladder Melton Centrals.
Football is a winter sport, but no-one could have predicted the conditions which arose at several venues, with wind and driving rain and even some hailstones on top of overnight saturation.
With the top two sides beaten, any previous confident predictions on which teams will finish in what order in the final six have been thrown into disarray.
Romsey and Diggers Rest are level on points in the top two spots, and Riddell moved to third place, with a percentage advantage over Rupertswood, Wallan and Macedon.
Lights were turned on for the entire Romsey versus Wallan encounter, and the fierce burst of hailstones arrived just as the match concluded with the visiting Magpies entitled to be cock-a-hoop with the 33-point victory, after restricting the home side to a solitary point in the first half.
For much of the season Romsey has fielded a settled line-up, but this time the Redbacks were battling to fill holes with injuries taking their toll.
Quality players sidelined included ace recruit Mitch Jensen, Chris Burkett, Blake Henderson and Ben Way.
Former Wallan club president Neale Langborne said afterwards the Magpies had been able to field their strongest side for the season, and the victory was no surprise.
“We needed the four points, and were confident, particularly as Romsey had a few regulars out,” he said.
With plenty of solidly built players, and skills as well, Wallan adapted to the conditions better than the Redbacks in what was a desperate seesawing battle for supremacy.
Defences on both sides held firm in the first term, with a rushed point the only score. It was difficult to handle the wet ball or kick long distances in the adverse conditions.
Romsey’s first score was a snapped point from skipper Jaiyden Caruana mid-way through the second quarter, but the Magpies took control and managed to rush the ball forward and conjure three priceless goals, and well as a string of behinds at the southern end of the ground.
The 3.8 to 0.1 halftime margin looked to be a winning one in the conditions.
The third term was a complete stalemate, and Joel Naylor’s goal for the Redbacks was the sole score for the term
Romsey needed a goal early in the last term, but the opposition struck first, and it was only a doubled up 50 metre penalty that gave Rowan Stott a second major for the home side.
Some frustrations and skirmishes erupted late in proceedings, and the Magpies ended up as deserving victors.
The Redbacks have the bye this week, and will regroup, with a Sports Night featuring former AFL champions Dustin Fletcher and Peter Daicos on Friday evening on the agenda.
Shock for Macedon
After a superb victory over Diggers Rest the previous Saturday, Macedon’s double chance prospects were jolted at Melton Centrals.
The Cats led by 14 points at the last change in a very low scoring affair, but the home side rammed home a match-winning five goals to a solitary point to achieve a stunning victory over the tiring Cats.
Dylan Weir’s four goals were decisive and Centrals were elated to finally roll a “top six” line-up. Macedon also have a bye this weekend, but then face up to a confident Riddell combination at Bomberland.
Riddell’s first half in the wet was hard to fault, with top goalkicker Dylan Tarczon a standout. The Bombers restricted Broadford to a solitary point, the match starting early as the visitors had forfeited in the Reserves.
Surface water everywhere in the last quarter meant packs everywhere with only a point was scored.
The final margin a percentage boosting 113 points, with Riddell sensibly resting a couple of key players late in the game.
If there’s similar conditions (very unlikely) in the finals Riddell and Wallan will certainly fancy their chances.
Coach Chris Collins was back in action, and Lancefield battled hard at Diggers Rest with the home side not achieving the percentage boost they may have expected.
At home, Rupertswood took control in the first half against Woodend-Hesket, ending the Hawks very slim hopes of making the finals.
To their credit, Woodend-Hesket turned in a better second half, and the club was buoyed by their Under 19.5 side downing the previously unbeaten Sharks by four points, and a strong competitive effort in the Reserves.
Some Riddell League followers from other parts of the state found it hard to believe the scores they saw posted … if they had seen the extraordinary conditions they would have understood.

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