A huge Panther crowd ventured to Coburg City Oval to support the boys and early in the match there was plenty to cheer about. We had the early ascendency and Dustan Mills was marking everything that came his way. From there the game ebbed and flowed as both teams looked to assert their dominance. The likes of Wilton, Smith-Cameron and Jones were off to a strong start in the midfield and we managed to kick clear to a two-goal quarter time advantage.
Old Geelong lifted a gear in the second quarter as they took advantage of some of our poor decision making and skill errors, which put our backline under immense pressure. Unlike in the Semi Final a fortnight ago where the Old Geelong midfield was under pressure with every kick forward, this time around they were getting free on the turnover and hitting up their key forwards under minimal duress. Overall, six goals to two turned their 12-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
Still, there was plenty of fight left in the Panthers as we had all the play early in the third quarter. After a string of minor scores Mills kicked his third. From there it was goal-for-goal as neither side could put the other away. Brad Norton, Doug Payton and Aaron Hodges were setting up our attacking moves from the half back line while Brenton Schubert was playing one of his best games for the season with some fantastic marking across half forward. In hindsight, an inaccurate return of 3.7 for the quarter would prove costly.
With a quarter to play it was three points the margin and anyone's game. After an early goal to Old Geelong extended their lead to 9 points, the game turned into a dour struggle as neither side could break through the opposition's defence. A goal to Keiffer Smith-Cameron mid-way through the term kept us within striking distance however it was short lived as Old Geelong kicked consecutive goals to give them a 14-point lead with only minutes to play. To our credit, we didn't give in. Schubert's third goal gave us a flicker of hope and we surged forward again but couldn't kick the crucial goal that we needed as the Old Geelong side flooded back to defend, hanging on for an 8-point victory.
We're all very proud of the efforts from the boys, while the result didn't go to plan every one of the men who took to the field gave their absolute all and left nothing out there. One thing is for sure - the boys will be back next year bigger, better and more determined to make an assault on C-Grade, we hope you come along for the ride.