By Lance Jenkinson
It was three strikes and you’re out for Werribee Districts.
The Tigers season was derailed by bogey side Spotswood in the Western Region Football League division 1 elimination final.
It was the third time the two sides had met this season, with the Woodsmen emerging victorious on all three occasions.
The 23-point loss in the do-or-die clash on Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow for Tigers coach Chris Gilham after his side entered the finals so full of promise.
“We beat everyone in the competition bar Spotty,” Gilham said. “It’s one team we couldn’t get over. We can’t be dirty because we played them three times and they beat us every time.”
The Tigers deserved more than a straight sets exit after an impressive season.
A bounce of the ball here or there cost them a spot in the top three and the insurance of a double chance.
They beat all top three teams during the season, including minor premier Altona, reigning premier Deer Park and Hoppers Crossing.
They lost only four games, but drawn matches against Hoppers Crossing and Sunshine mid-season proved costly.
“We played off in an elimination final, but we weren’t far off from finishing top or second,” Gilham said. “Then within two hours your season is over … that’s the hard part.
“We lost at the same stage last year, but we were nowhere near good enough.
“Whereas this year … we definitely thought we were good enough.”
Werribee Districts fluffed too many chances to break its season duck against Spotswood.
The Tigers kicked a wayward 11.15, while the Woodsmen were clinical in front of goal en route to 16.8.
The Woodsmen laid the foundation with five goals straight in the first quarter and finished the job with a barnstorming seven goals straight in the fourth.
“At one stage we were 12 points down and had eight more scoring shots,” Gilham said. “We just butchered some chances.”
Will Sullivan finished the season on a high note. The recruit has been a strong aerial presence throughout the season.
Andrew Panayi kicked three goals for the Tigers, while Lachlan Rainbow added two.
Gilham hopes the pain of Sunday’s loss will spur the team to bigger things in 2019.
“This is why winning finals and winning premierships are so sweet because they’re so hard to do,” he said.
“It’s a six-month battle and four or five month preparation before that. And on the back of a bad quarter or a bad week, it can all be over and that’s how we’re feeling right now.
“It will fuel you over the summer to want to get back there.”
Hoppers Crossing will have to take the tough route to the top. The Warriors went down by 48 points to Deer Park in the qualifying final at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday.
Steven Kretiuk’s team will be fighting for its survival in a semi-final against Spotswood at Avalon Airport Oval on Sunday.
The other semi-final will be contested by Altona and Deer Park on Saturday, also at the Watton Street venue, with the winner to advance to the grand final.
In division 2, Point Cook failed in its first attempt to go straight through to the grand final, losing its semi-final to Yarraville Seddon by 28 points.
The Bulldogs will face Parkside in the preliminary final at Whitten Oval on
In division 3, Point Cook Centrals were the first team to reach the big dance after a 17-point semi-final win over Tarneit.
Wyndham Suns cruised to a 58-point elimination final victory over Braybrook to set up a tasty preliminary final date with Tarneit at Pennell Reserve on Sunday.