Welcome to the new series, Best Battles — recounting some of the best battles between teams who were meant to meet each other this weekend.
Although football is on a long hiatus, there is no reason we cannot still report on the matches with a twist.
Best Battles takes you to the most important duel, result or individual performance between the teams in recent memory.
We know our memory is not as good as yours though, so make sure you let us know where you think we have missed the mark, or hit the nail on the head.
Finley v Congupna – Round two 2018, at Congupna
Congupna 9.7 (61) lt Finley 9.12 (66)
You have to go back to 2016 to find a clash between Finley and Congupna which was decided by more than 19 points.
Of that recent tight stretch the round two fixture of 2018 proved the closest, with the Cats holding off a fast-finishing home side at Memorial Park.
Cam Robertson and Luke Moore led the way for the visitors, with the latter snaring three goals to help steer his side to victory — but it was not a win which came easily.
The Cats led by 22 points at the main break before The Road came charging home, missing the photo on the line by less than a straight kick.
BJ Squire was at his brilliant best, while Ayden Fiore and Daniel Schaper (two goals) provided great supporting roles in the defeat.
It was Finley’s second win in a row to start the season — a run which stretched to four to set the platform for a finals berth.
The Road found five wins for the campaign to foreshadow even more improvement to come.
Nathalia v Deni Rams – Round eight 2014, at Nathalia
Deniliquin 10.8 (68) d Nathalia 9.6 (60)
Season 2014 was a much happier time for Deniliquin against Nathalia.
Since then, the Purps have got the better of the Rams in all seven meetings — sometimes by monster margins.
But on Saturday, June 7, 2014 Deni’s mental strength was well and truly on display.
After trailing at every break, the Rams rallied in the final term to kick three goals to one and record a big victory.
‘‘I asked a lot of the boys and they all stood up and played well which was the most pleasing part,’’ Rams coach Troy Bartlett said.
‘‘It was a good win, but unfortunately we don’t have long to celebrate because we still have some tough games ahead and then it all starts again when we play Mulwala.’’
The result proved pivotal in the final make up of the season, as the Rams finished two points ahead of Nathalia to secure the final spot in the Murray League top six.
Deni could have quite easily raffled off who would kick their goals on the day, as four players kicked two each. Jason Limbrick kicked three for the home side on his way to 39 for the season.
Deni Rovers v Katamatite – Round 11 2019, at Deni
Deniliquin 9.14 (68) lt Katamatite 11.3 (69)
The memory bank is not being tested here, but how do you go past this thriller in the last meeting between these two clubs?
The lead changed at every siren, three players on the ground snared hauls of four goals or more and the final margin was the slimmest it could be — everything you want from a classic contest.
After holding sway at the final break, the Rovers could not find the middle of the big sticks — for the second week in a row — and the Tigers pounced, kicking the term’s only two majors.
Chris McKay and Brodie McDonald booted five apiece for the victors as Ricki Waters managed four for the home side.
‘‘It was a really important game for us, we stuck it out and kicked straight,’’ Katamatite coach Jedd Wright said after the game.
‘‘(The three-quarter-time message) was to run and take the game on. They came out after half-time and played some really good footy, but we went away from taking things on and running forward.
‘‘We probably moved the ball really well in our back half and we were able to get our shots straight in front where they were being pushed wide.’’
Jerilderie 13.10 (88) d Tocumwal 8.11 (59)
Going back to a time where both of these clubs had healthier win columns, this penultimate battle of the season in the 2015 north-west division sent Jerilderie into the decider against Strathmerton for the third successive year.
Former Shepparton News sports editor Gregor Mactaggart wrote at the time that the Demons came ‘‘bursting out of the blocks quicker than Usain Bolt’’, and that is exactly what they did.
Jerilderie had five goals on the board at quarter-time to the Bloods’ one — and added another two in the second stanza to almost put the game to bed.
The Bloods found some majors through Kyel Bain and mounted a comeback, but it was not enough to stop the Demons in their tracks.
Aaron Purcell and Brodie A’Vard both managed three goals for the victors, with Shaun Bryce best afield.
The Demons could not back up their efforts the following week against the Bulldogs, going down by 16 points.
Mathoura v Waaia – Round 17 2008, at Mathoura
Waaia 21.17 (143) d Mathoura 5.10 (40)
Waaia’s Greg ‘Herbie’ Meyland gave Picola District League defenders nightmares on a weekly basis and it was no different on this occasion.
Throughout the season, he had proven he could kick goals in several different ways on his journey to another century.
But he could be forgiven for thinking his 100th of the season would be a lot more difficult to come by.
After taking a strong contested mark in the second half, Meyland was preparing to line up to bring up his milestone — then the umpire’s whistle sounded.
‘‘His conversion was not as sweet though, as Niko the runner ran through the mark bringing Meyland up to the square to boot his 12th for the game, and 100th for the season one metre out,’’ a
Mathoura club match report said of the game.
The Timbercutters report added: ‘‘Messy disposals and lack of fitness had a great bearing on the result of this game.’’
Waaia’s season would later end in a preliminary final against Katandra.
Blighty v Rennie (reserves) – Preliminary final 2019, at Deni
Blighty 9.11 (65) d Rennie 9.2 (56)
Blighty’s 2019 reserves premiership nearly didn’t happen, after it needed extra-time against Rennie to even head through to the grand final.
The Redeyes led by three goals in the final quarter but couldn’t stop a desperate Hopper outfit charging home late — and Rennie nearly grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.
In one of the more memorable moments of country footy finals, Blighty’s Beau Close snapped a behind as the final siren rang out that appeared to be match-winning, but the scoreboard had been wrong in indicating the scores were tied beforehand, with the goal umpires conferring and deciding extra-time would be required to find a winner.
But the Redeyes would win the game for a second time, with Tristan Wilson kicking the only goal in extra-time to help his side through by nine points.
Blighty would go on to thump Waaia in the grand final.
- McPherson Media Group sports team