Season draws to a close for Wallan Magpies

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Wallan’s Reserves couldn’t bring home the goods from Romsey Park on Sunday, going down to Diggers Rest by 40 points in the grand final. Diggers Rest also won the senior grand final over Woodend-Hesket.

By Max Davies

AS the curtain closed on 2023 season of the Riddell District Football Netball League, it was Diggers Rest who took out bragging rights in the two senior football divisions, capping off an impressive year for the club.

It was a valiant effort from Woodend-Hesket in the senior football grand final on Sunday, but season-long premiership favourites Diggers Rest took control of the game from the first bounce and never looked back.

Holding a 43-point advantage at the final siren, Burras forward Marcus Calvaresi led the team’s goalscoring with four majors.

Diggers Rest’s remaining 12 goals were shared between eight players, while the Hawks struggled to contain the spirited attacking play.

The Burras had earlier secured the Reserves premiership before their seniors took to the field, successfully quelling Wallan for a 2023 premiership in a repeat of last year’s Reserves final.

Mirroring the form of the senior side the week before to remain in contention early in the match, Wallan’s Reserves put up a fight to go into the second quarter level on eight points with the Burras.

Kaiden Broomfield boots the footy toward the goal.

But in the second term, Diggers Rest found its way through Wallan’s defence, scoring three goals in the second quarter to storm into the lead by nearly 20 points at the long break.

As the match clock ticked on, it became increasingly difficult for Wallan to maintain possession, let alone attack the forward 50, especially as several attempts at goal resulted in behinds and leaving the team further on the back foot with only two goals for the second half.

Jamie Morris battles his opponent for the footy.

Diggers Rest kept its composure and kicked five goals in the period, recording a 75 to 37 victory at full-time to make it two Reserves premierships in a row.

Emotions were high at the final siren when reality set in for the Magpies.

Alex Crawford kicked two goals for the Magpies and was supported in scoring by Blaide Dickson, Alex Crnko and Rhys Frost – ending the match with five goals to the Burras’ 11.

Wallan’s Reserves coach James Christall. ​

Meanwhile, in the under 19.5 division, it was Macedon who delivered a 99-point thumping to the Gisborne Giants to conclude an admirable season for both clubs.

Gisborne, who finished 2022 on the bottom of the under 19.5 ladder with two wins, was able to turn its fortunes around for 2023 to head into finals as ladder leaders with only three losses.

However despite finishing the home and away season in third place, Macedon was the stronger side in the finals as it secured a direct ticket to the grand final by defeating the Giants in the semi-final.

The Cats kept Gisborne to just one goal for the grand final while scoring 17 for themselves, with best-on-field Bradley Cooke scoring four majors under the ever-consistent leadership of skipper Alec McGregor.

Netball

In a top-two shootout for the A Grade premiership, it was Woodend-Hesket taking home the cup over the threatening Riddell.

The Bombers, who had been on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away season with just one defeat, went down against the Hawks, 46 to 37.

The result of the September 2 semi-final foreshadowed the grand final, as Riddell lost to Woodend-Hesket by four goals on that occasion.

In contrast, it was Riddell who took out the B Grade premiership, defeating Macedon in an unexpected result.

The Bombers came into finals fourth on the ladder while Macedon was first, however the former came out on top by seven goals despite taking the long route to the grand final.

Both C Grade and 19 and Under premierships were taken out by the Western Rams.

The C Grade result was the closest of all netball grand finals against Macedon, 25 to 20, with the Rams coming out on top in a hotly-contested match.

However, the 19 and Under grand final never looked in doubt for the Rams – the Rockbank team undefeated for the season and able to account for Riddell 36 to 25.