Match Report by Vince Rugari (The Area News)
A goal after the siren has consigned the Griffith Swans to a heartbreaking six-point loss to arch-rivals Leeton-Whitton in Brendan Fevola's one-off match yesterday at Exies Oval.
Despite heroically clawing back from 39 points down to surge in front in the last quarter, the Swans fell just short against the slicker, quicker Crows outfit.
Brad Boots was the man who drove the dagger through the hearts of the crowd of around 1500, holding his nerve from the edge of the goalsquare to win the game 13.15 (93) to 13.9 (87).
Fevola recovered from a dirty first quarter to kick seven goals for the match, taking a number of strong , one-out marks in the forward 50.
Backing up after kicking 9.11 on Saturday for Yarrawonga and still recovering from minor knee surgery, the 32-year-old was rusty, but showed glimpses of the Fev of old.
He did, however miss two crucial set shots late on that could have swung the match back Griffith's way.
The former Carlton and Brisbane star told the Area News he thought the crucial free kick in the ruck given to Leeton-Whitton in the dying embers of the game proved costly.
"To have a free kick in the ruck when there wasn't a free kick paid (in the ruck) all day ... they kicked three goals from free kicks, so it was very frustrating towards the end," Fevola said.
"But to be six goals down at quarter-time and play the way we did in the third quarter with the breeze was good.
"We got in front in the last quarter and it would have been a nice ending, but it wasn't to be."
Captain-coach Guy Orton was less forgiving.
"That's one we've let slip," he said.
"We got on top there and we just relaxed , we thought the game was over."
"Those last couple of minutes, getting it to the forward line and that mark at the top of the square shouldn't have happened."
"That negative feeling that everyone's got in the gut now, we'll use to drive us forward. We're much better side than what we showed today and we'll build from this and be a better side next week."
If it wasn't for Griffith's nightmare start, the match might have stuck to the script.
Leeton-Whitton burst out of the blocks with six unanswered goals to take a hefty 39-point lead into the first change, and in the end their start was the difference.
The shellshocked Swans could have no complaints with the score-line - they were too often second to the ball and took too long to move it on once they had it, playing right into the Crows' hands.
"We didn't react quick enough - we were probably more Fev-watching than anything."
"We were looking to him too early in the game and they just used their runners to get out of it," Orton said.
But Griffith woke up in the second term and kicked the first four goals to work their way back into the contest.
Fevola was isolated early but it was then that he started to make his mark on the game, taking a spectacular one-handed grab in the goalsquare before going back and booting his first goal.
He slotted the first two of the second half and then one more to bring the Swans to within 13 points at the final change.
Then Dean Crack and James Toscan followed suit inside the opening two minutes of the last quarter to dramatically level the scores, before a behind gave Griffith the most slender of margins.
The Swans had all the momentum but Leeton-Whitton dipped into their reserve tank and stunned the crowd with three straight goals to break the game wide open.
Fevola was right in the thick of it and while he missed two crucial opportunities, he did hook around to nail a last-gasp goal right on the boundary - with some assistance from the umpire, who creatively paid a mark to the Coleman medalist that wasn't there.
It was all set up for a fairytale Griffith finish with scores at 87-87 in the dying moments, but it never came.
"Brendan's not here next week so we've got to get back to working to our structure and back into the winning list," Orton said.
"All in all there's some good positives to come out of it. Good teams fight back and I know we're a good team."
"If that's all they've got, then we're a way better side." BACK TO 2013 SEASON