It was a day of mixed emotions all round as Mernda overcame a determined Old Eltham Collegians in Round 18 of Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
The Demons scored the 13.5 (83) to 8.12 (60) win in heavy conditions under sunny skies at Eltham College.
The Demons held up their end of the bargain in their bid to climb into the top-four by winning their game. They also needed Laurimar to defeat South Morang as well on the day, but the Lions proved far too good and defeated the Power to clinch another finals appearance.
So the Demons walked off the ground contented with their efforts but in the knowledge that they have finished fifth – sadly, a regular occurrence in recent years.
The Turtles were hoping to send off coach John Garrard with a win. Garrard announced this week that he has elected to step down from his role as senior coach. His players gave their all but fell short on the day.
The mood of Mernda fans changed throughout the afternoon. At quarter time, Laurimar and South Morang were neck and neck, while Old Eltham Collegians led by two goals.
Just as the Demons clawed their way back into the game in term two, the Lions got a decisive break on the Power and never looked back.
It became obvious late in the contest that Mernda was merely playing for the win and not for the added bonus of finals action.
Nonetheless, the Demons applied themselves in a diligent manner in the final quarter and got the job done.
“We controlled the game after quarter time,” Mernda coach Paul Derrick said.
Derrick noted that his defence was on top for most of the day – with Christian Cawsey doing a good job to keep danger forward Kieran Malone to one goal. He also praised the work of Shannon McVeigh on the wing – who justified his promotion from the reserves.
Old Eltham Collegians had no answer for Matthew Campbell who booted six goals – including four after half time to snuff out any hope of a Turtle revival.
Daniel Smith was busy at half forward and chipped in with three majors himself, while Brenden Egberts booted two.
Tyson Sparkes was busy through the midfield and finished off his work with a last term goal.
Despite finishing the year with a loss, the Turtles take momentum and a positive vibe into 2020.
“Happy with the performance,” Old Eltham Collegians coach John Garrard. said “Had a few things gone our way, we could’ve won the game.”
Indeed, their kicking at goal let them down – with a mixture of narrow misses and poor kicking.
Eden Simpson was their best forward with two goals, but he was the only multiple goal kicker.
Corey Ray was prolific in the midfield, while Nick Snowdon used the ball well as always. Fraser Cloney came back from injury and returned to his good form of mid-season.
Luke Booth began in defence but was moved into the midfield after half time and gave the Turtles drive.
Konnar Adam plays for Yarrambat under-17s and was given a run in the ruck late in the contest.
In the reserves, Old Eltham Collegians won by seven points over Mernda. These two teams play again next week in the first semi-final.
Final score: Old Eltham Collegians 8.12 (60) def by Mernda 13.5 (83)
OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS
Goal Kickers: E. Simpson 2, M. Quinton, J. Keppa, F. Cloney, K. Adam, N. Snowdon, K. Malone
Best Players: C. Ray, N. Snowdon, L. Booth, E. Simpson, F. Cloney, L. Bower
Goal Kickers: M. Campbell 6, D. Smith 3, B. Egberts 2, T. Sparkes, R. Black
Best Players: M. Campbell, L. Dimech, S. McVeigh, D. Smith, T. Sparkes, E. Mills