By Stuart Kavanagh
It was the final round of the AFL competition before finals this past weekend, and what a weekend it was.
Shock results, legends retiring and a thriller at Jubilee Oval.
First, we head to Memorial Oval where the Magpies enjoyed a shock victory over league leaders South Broken Hill.
The match was over as a contest by half time with Central holding a 49-point lead, restricting South to just one goal and one behind.
Not satisfied with that, the Magpies put their foot down in the second half, piling on seven more goals.
South troubled the scorers more frequently in the second, but ultimately were powerless to resist as Central finished with recorded a 78-point victory.
It wasn’t just the result that made this a special victory. Centrals win was something of a drought breaker.
Incredibly it was the first time Central had defeated South in a men’s senior league match since a five-point victory back in round one of the 2014 season.
That’s a staggering 3060 days since they last tasted victory against the Roos.
The big-points win was enough for Central Broken Hill Football Club to secure a second-place finish on the Premiership Ladder, whilst South were in no danger of losing the minor premiership, regardless of the result this past Saturday.
The result ensures Central will take on North in the semi-final next weekend. Central will come into this game on a high with two significant victories in the last two rounds.
North, on the other hand, are experiencing a little wobble as they head into the final’s series.
The Bulldogs lost their second match in a row, this time to the Mighty Robins in an emotionally charged fixture.
It was a close-run thing, but West came out on top in a 16-point victory in coach David Ruddocks final fixture before retiring.
West exploded out of the gates, taking full advantage of the wind to lead by 11 points at quarter time.
Northies pulled it back in the second quarter and at half time it was all tied up at 4.3 apiece.
Whatever Rudds said at half time resonated with the boys, as they took full advantage of the breeze to restore a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter.
It was just a matter of holding on to that lead, but West did even better than that. Riding the emotional wave in their coaches’ final game in footy to secure a 16-point victory.
After celebrations at the final siren, both sides gave David Ruddock a guard of honour as he exited the field for the last time in his career.
We spoke to Dave following the big win that bookended the end of his career and he admitted to it, “feeling a bit strange to be packing up my footy gear for the last time”.
He also expressed his delight at how his final four quarters of footy played out.
“It was excellent, mate.” he said about the performance. “We prepared for the game like a final.
I asked the boys for a big effort, and they delivered. It was a fantastic way to finish up.”
In the reserves the results were reversed in both fixtures.
Northies seconds easily accounted for The Mighty Robins twos by 110 points. An avalanche of goals in the third quarter secured victory for the Doggies reserves.
South reserves also chalked up a comfortable six-goal victory against Centrals second side.
Despite falling behind in the first quarter, South wrestled control of the fixture in the second term and were never bothered after that.
The Roos’ victory ensured they swept the senior men’s competition by winning both the Seniors and reserve grade minor premierships.
Central and North will clash this weekend for the right to face South in the Grand Final, mirroring the seniors as well.