For Central Highlands Football League coach Clive Raak and the five players involved in last year’s narrow AFL Victoria Community Championships defeat, the sound of Saturday’s final siren would have hurt just a little more than most.
It signed a second straight interleague campaign ruined by less than a goal, with the weekend’s four-point loss to the Southern competition the same margin as the Highlanders’ defeat to Geelong and District in 2016.
Southern produced clearly the stronger first half, and despite being completely outplayed by a rejuvenated Highlanders outfit in the third term, did what it required in the last quarter to secure the result.
Trailing by seven points at the last change, a brilliant two-goal burst from Daniel Farmer saw the hosts regain the lead mid-way through the quarter and then lock down to protect it amidst a pressing CHFL side.
When Jack Duke bobbed up deep in attack late in the match, it looked as though the Highlanders were about to pinch the victory. But his quick shot in the dying seconds just missed and it proved the last score of the game.
“It’s frustrating, but how we went about it was pretty good after half time. We weren’t out of the game, but we weren’t playing really good footy,” CHFL coach Clive Raak said.
Raak said he used the side’s versatility to make positional changes at half time and gave the side a good rev-up before the third term onslaught.
Lincoln Barnes won the medal as the CHFL’s best on ground for his quality display in the midfield.
SFL 2.3 6.4 7.5 9.6 (60)
CHFL 2.0 4.3 8.6 8.8 (56)
GOALS – SFL: D. Farmer 4, L. Walmsley 3, J. Dowling 2. CHFL: J. Morgan 2, W. Driscoll, D. Wehrung, D. Robertson, L. Murray, J. Hogan, M. Dawson.
BEST – SFL: L. Walmsley , J. Ferguson, J. Dowling, M. Terech, A. Frost, D. Farmer. CHFL: L. Barnes, J. Morgan, J. Rodgers, J. Simpson, M. Gunnell, J. Hogan.