CHFA. Redpa have surged into the grand final following a comprehensive 115-point win over ladder leaders Irishtown at Stanley on Saturday.
The second semi-final upset means the Canaries will now face Scotchtown in a do-or-die qualifying final this weekend at home, leaving the Redlegs with a week off to prepare for next weekend’s final match against the winner.
The undefeated Irishtown had beaten Redpa on each previous encounter throughout the regular season: a 23-point win in round three; a 25-point win the highest margin in round six; and an eight-point win in round 11.
But as Redpa grabbed a narrow 11-point lead at quarter time on Saturday, they followed up in the second with seven goals – an amount their opposition had not conceded in one quarter all season.
With the half-time lead at 51-points, a 13-goal second half in favour of the Redlegs ensured the impact was at a maximum, with the Canaries held to a year-low six goals in total.
Redpa’s Koel Nicholls finished with eight goals alongside five to league-leading goalkicker Ashton Bransden, while Joe Brown and Shannon Walsh kicked two each for Irishtown.
Redpa assistant coach Zach Bransden said his side combined well in comparison to previous matchups against the Canaries, citing clever use of the ball and bench alternations as key factors.
“Our team was a lot more disciplined – we had a lot more rotations,” he said.
“Everyone gave 100 per cent on Saturday. Obviously it’s good to get a week off.”
Irishtown coach Josh Perry admitted his side “couldn’t have played worse” and the opposition “couldn’t have played better” in the semi, but was confident they could bounce back against the Tigers this weekend.
“I just thought they were a lot better than us on the day,” Perry said. “To Redpa’s credit, they kept attacking and we didn’t man up.
“It’s a character-building sport . . . We hope we can put something better on the park next week.”
Meanwhile, Scotchtown has had a week to prepare for this weekend’s qualifying final and with their opposition confirmed, coach Brent Burgess will be looking to build on their success against Forest-Stanley to continue their finals run.
“That’s probably what won us the game – the running start,” Burgess said of last weekend’s win, before adding for this weekend: “We’re really excited as a playing group . . . I expect them to fight back: we’ll have to be at our best.”
In the Reserves, Irishtown booked their spot in the grand final with a 40-point win over Redpa, with the Redlegs now set to face Scotchtown for the last spot.
Finally, a bizarre scenario in the U/17s match between Redpa and Scotchtown saw the latter lose a seven-point lead in the space of a few minutes.
The Tigers were found to have had too many players on the ground in the final quarter, leading to the wiping of their score and giving the Redlegs an eventual 35-point win.