MATCH REPORT: GRIFFITH vs GANMAIN-GGM - RFNL PRELIMINARY FINAL SEPT 16, 2018
Griffith dig deep and return to grand final
By PETER DOHERTY
GRIFFITH almost lifted the roof off their dressing room at Narrandera Sportsground on Sunday afternoon with a stirring rendition of the team song after booking the club's first grand final appearance in 14 years.
It was an equally stirring performance on the paddock to earn it - a dramatic comeback to beat Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong 15.7 (97) to 12.8 (80) in the preliminary final, after being 23 points down in the second quarter and 17 points behind early in the third.
"We've been talking a lot about belief throughout the last few weeks - well, this team's got fantastic character and resilience," Swans coach Will Griggs said.
"It's fantastic for the town, great for the club with the reserves going through as well - two very spirited wins."
The Swans celebrations were tempered after learning star midfielder Jordan Iudica was reported for umpire abuse in the third quarter. He faces an anxious wait to learn on Monday the severity of the charge and potential penalty.
Iudica blew up after a free kick against him 15 minutes into the third quarter with the Swans down by 10 and pressing forward. His reaction saw it escalate to a 50 metre penalty and a yellow card.
Ironically, the incident lifted the Swans, who kicked three goals in five minutes shortly afterwards to hit the front for the first time since the end of the first quarter.
A seven-point lead wasn't a match-winning though, with GGGM to enjoy the breeze in the last and the Lions had tied it up after Riley Corbett's fourth goal four minutes in.
But Griffith showed great composure, recovering with goals to Jacob Conlan and Griggs. GGGM were back within a goal midway through the term but Iudica made sure the Swans capitalised on a Lions turnover coming out of defence.
His goal and the last of the game to Toby Blissett sealed the deal.
It had been a freewheeling start with 11 goals before quarter-time as the Swans went from 15 points up to a goal down with GGGM's Jethro Peck kicking three beauties in a quarter. Peck then had his fourth early in the second term before Riley Corbett bomb opened up an almost-four-goal-lead.
But the Swans had the luxury of swapping Lucas Conlan back and brother Jacob forward. And while they were hanging on in the second quarter, Kris Duncan found two important goals to ensure they went to the main break just 12 points down.
Griggs said they refused to panic about a potential straight sets exit and backed their game plan and fitness to finish strongly. Griggs, Heath Northey and Ben King were strong while Duncan's three goals were invaluable.
Mick Duncan went off early in the first quarter with a high quad concern but did return in the final quarter and is confident he'll be right for the grand final.
Hurting Lions rue what got away
GANMAIN-GRONG Grong-Matong coach Christin Macri said it hurt enormously to see his side work so hard to get in a strong position only to fall victim to a Griffith fightback.
The Lions worked their way back from an early 15-point deficit to dominate much of the first three quarters, only to let a 23-point lead - and grand final appearance - get away.
"We had an opportunity today, there's no doubt about it, and we put ourselves in a strong position at times and we made a couple of really crucial errors that allowed them to get their hands on the footy," Macri said.
"Whether it was a few discipline things or not being clean enough with the footy. We spoke a lot about composure and at times today we just lacked a little bit. And that's hurt us."
The Lions were confident heading into the last quarter but were overrun by a seasoned and composed Swans.
Jacob Olsson was outstanding, while Jethro Peck's four goals in 15 minutes early was a highlight.