Welcome to McPherson Media Group’s new series, Best Battles – taking the commonly uttered pre-game phrase “we owe these boys one” to a whole new level.
Although football is – like almost all other sports – on a long hiatus, the MMG sports team has decided there is no reason we cannot still report on the matches which were scheduled to happen, but with a twist of course.
Best Battles takes you to the most important duel, result or individual performance between the teams in recent memory.
We know our memory is not as good as yours though, so make sure you let us know where you think we have missed the mark – or hit the nail on the head – and we will publish your thoughts.
Numurkah v Barooga
Round 15, 2017, at Barooga Recreation Reserve
Barooga 15.7 (97) d Numurkah 12.13 (85)
There has been some brilliant, bone-crunching clashes between these sides in recent seasons, but a late-campaign contest in 2017 sticks in the mind.
Barooga had fallen by two points to the Blues earlier in the year – and in fact was 0-3 in matches decided by less than three goals before facing Numurkah once again – but got the chocolates here in a win which secured the side third spot on the table.
Tom Wilkinson (five) and Lucas Olson (four) combined for nine of the Hawks’ goals on the way to the tight win, with the outfit having to come from behind at the final change after controlling the first half.
“We started well and dropped off, but it was important that we got the win,” co-coach Tyrone Downie said after the game.
“Obviously there was a strong breeze, but we led early kicking into it and were able to use it in the last.”
Mitch Price and Tim Arnel stood tall for the Blues, who would go on to taste grand final action while the Hawks fell to Nathalia in the preliminary final.
Cobram v Mulwala
Round 14, 2017, at Scott Oval
Mulwala 13.10 (88) d Cobram 12.8 (80)
Some teams will be taught a harsh lesson when they take the foot off of the accelerator, others will perform the great escape.
In this tightly fought contest, Mulwala was part of the latter.
After a strong opening half, the Lions led by 26 points at the main break and you would have expected them to kick on and easily get the job done.
But Cobram was waiting for its opportunity to pounce.
The Tigers roared to life in the third term, kicking seven goals to two.
The message in the Lions three-quarter-time was clear – get back to doing the basics well and we will win this game.
And Mulwala coach Michael Tout’s message managed to get through as his side bounced back.
‘‘I suppose they were playing for their survival, they put a lot of pressure on us,’’ he said.
‘‘We came out and kicked five straight goals to start the game, but then we just went back to playing ordinary footy.
‘‘To get the lead back in the last 10 minutes was great though, it showed the boys that you can never give up.’’
Mulwala’s Ash Froud, who finished the year as the league’s leading goalkicker with 113, contributed four on the day.
While at the other end, Mitch Richmann added three for the Tigers.
Deniliquin Rovers v Katamatite
Round 11, 2019, at Deniliquin
Deniliquin 9.14 (68) lt Katamatite 11.3 (69)
The memory bank is not being tested here, but how do you go past this thriller in the last meeting between these two clubs?
The lead changed at every siren, three players on the ground snared hauls of four goals or more and the final margin was the slimmest it could be – everything you want from a classic contest.
After holding sway at the final break, the Rovers could not find the middle of the big sticks – for the second week in a row – and the Tigers pounced, kicking the term’s only two majors.
Chris McKay and Brodie McDonald booted five apiece for the victors as Ricki Waters managed four for the home side.
“It was a really important game for us, we stuck it out and kicked straight,” Katamatite coach Jedd Wright said after the game.
“(The three-quarter-time message) was to run and take the game on. They came out after half-time and played some really good footy, but we went away from taking things on and running forward.
“We probably moved the ball really well in our back half and we were able to get our shots straight in front where they were being pushed wide.
“There was a big difference in the scoring shots, but I think a lot of that was down to our pressure and not allowing easy shots.”
Katunga v Yarroweyah
Round 11, 2019, at Yarroweyah Recreation Reserve
Yarroweyah 19.7 (121) d Katunga 12.14 (86)
Goals, goals and more goals – that was the order of the day when Yarroweyah hosted Katunga last season.
The Hoppers and Swans had the same amount of scoring shots for the match, but the former was able to produce extremely accurate kicking to secure a crucial 35-point win.
Andy Jones snagged seven majors of his own alongside Coleby Hellyer-Maud (six) to have the Hoppers singing the song when the final siren sounded.
Katunga still managed to wheel out some firepower of its own though, with Dylan Sidebottom (five) and Oliver Small (four) keeping their side within striking distance at the final change.
Picola United v Strathmerton
Grand final, 2017, at Blighty Recreation Reserve
Picola United 11.4 (70) d Strathmerton 7.10 (52)
If you’re a Strathmerton fan, you might want to stop reading here.
If you’re a Picola United fan, take a walk down memory lane.
This was the day that belonged to Kian Wise, after the 16-year-old substitute kicked three goals, playing a key role in a third quarter where the men in blue and white piled on six unanswered majors to win back-to-back flags, and the final PDFL North-West premiership.
Max Canfield did everything he could to keep his Bulldogs in the contest, winning the best on ground medal with two goals and huge marking numbers, but was unable to get the team over the line.
Picola United coach Jon Varcoe said his team had fought incredibly hard in the second half to claim the flag for the second year in a row.
‘‘It was a special win, the boys dug in deep, we didn't have it all our way, but we came out and played brilliant football in that third term,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘We regrouped after half-time and I could not have asked for much more in that second half.’’
While the whole team had contributed, he held the biggest praise for teenager Wise.
‘‘He was able to come on and not only kick a few goals, but also set up a few as well, it is definitely a day he will remember.’’