A ten-goal masterclass by Ahmed Saad handed West Preston-Lakeside its first finals win since 2011 and propelled the Roosters into the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 preliminary final.
Saad is already known as one of the most electrifying players in the Northern Football Netball League.
But even by his own lofty standards, the West Preston-Lakeside star put on show that will go down as one of the greatest ever seen in NFNL finals history – one that will live long in the memory of everyone in attendance at Preston City Oval.
The star forward kicked 10 goals in West Preston-Lakeside’s 18.8 (116) to 9.10 (64) first semi final victory over Bundoora.
It wasn’t just the tally that was impressive, it was the way Saad achieved the feat that made it even more special.
The 28-year-old entered the game off the back of a disappointing performance against North Heidelberg, where he was held goalless in the qualifying final defeat.
But Saad cast aside the pressure early in the semi final, with three goals in the first quarter to give the Roosters a four-point advantage at the first break. That included an incredible volley out of mid-air from the goal square.
Despite leading at the first change, the Roosters trailed for much of the first half and were down by nine points at the main break.
Bundoora may have entered the game undermanned amid a host of injuries in recent weeks, but the reigning premier looked every chance of going back-to-back if it could overcome the Roosters.
Gary Moorcroft and Josh Grabowski kicked four goals between them in the first half, while Josh Iacobaccio was starring across half back.
West Preston-Lakeside’s fightback began with a team-lifting goal from Luke Lirosi at the start of the third term.
Lirosi is known as one of the bravest players in the NFNL and was once again putting his body on the line for the Roosters – highlighted by a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball.
Patrick Karnezis returned to his best form in the third term. The former Brisbane and Collingwood player used his strong frame to bust through packs and kicked two goals for the Roosters to the Preston Market end.
Bundoora also hit the scoreboard in the third term, courtesy of goals to Damandeep Aujila, Moorcroft and Kain Proctor.
With scores level at three quarter time, both teams needed someone to break the game open.
That man proved to be Saad. The mercurial forward kicked five goals in the final term to drag his side to victory and cap off his own game with a perfect 10 majors.
Saad kicked a behind with his first shot on goal in the final term to give the Roosters the lead, before Josh Novelli kicked the all-important first goal to kick-start a run seven goals in 14 minutes for this side.
Saad kicked the next four goals, which included a fly kick in mid air that will be considered one of the goals of the season.
Bundoora defender Brent Marshall could do little but watch the ball sail over his head, as Saad continued to terrorise the Bulls.
The Roosters piled 8.4 to zero in the final quarter to storm into the preliminary final, where they will face North Heidelberg for the second time in two weeks. The match will decide who faces Macleod in the grand final.
Final score: West Preston-Lakeside 18.8 (116) def Bundoora 9.10 (64)