A RUSHED behind in the sixth period of extra time ended a stunning junior football preliminary final in Warrnambool yesterday.
North Warrnambool Eagles qualified for next Sunday’s Hampden league grand final against Cobden with the dramatic one-point triumph over Koroit at Walter Oval.
The sides were locked together with vastly different scorelines at the end of regular time, Koroit 2.3 (15) to the Eagles’ 1.9 (15).
Neither side scored in five five-minute extra periods until two minutes into the sixth when the ball ping-ponged over the Eagles scoreline for a rushed behind — sparking wild celebrations.
Hampden Football Netball League executive member Hugh Worrall, who has been involved in the sport for more than 50 years, was stunned more than 30 minutes of extra time was needed to achieve a result.
“It’s the first time I have seen that,” Worrall said.
“No one has ever seen anything like that.
‘‘It made it exciting.”
Worrall said strong winds and heavy rain made scoring difficult for the youngsters.
“They had a good game, they were pretty tired at the end.”
Eagles coach Jason Fowler was delighted with the result but felt for Koroit.
“It was an incredible game of footy,” he said.
“There was a little bit of chaos at the end until we worked out what was happening.
‘‘It could have went either way, luckily it went our way,” he said.
The draw at the end of regular time was just the start of the drama. Seconds into the first period of extra time, Eagles rising star Joe McKinnon, the league’s best and fairest winner, suffered a neck injury, forcing play to be halted.
But officials couldn’t locate a stretcher, prompting trainers to carry the youngster from the ground on a trestle table before he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Fowler said McKinnon, who had tingling in his neck, had been cleared of any damage after X-rays were taken and was to be released from hospital late yesterday after being observed as a precaution.
HFNL chief executive Mike Farrow said the ground wasn’t usually used by the league.
“I took it for granted there would be a stretcher at the game because all grounds have a stretcher,” he said. “I didn’t think (home club) South Rovers would have taken their stretcher to another ground for a District league final.”
The result was heart-breaking for Koroit.
It was undefeated in the home-and-away season but was overpowered by Cobden in the second semi-final before exiting the finals with yesterday’s loss.
The Eagles’ under 16 side’s fairytale run from fielding no team last year came up short as it tried to come from fifth to make the grand final. South Warrnambool scored an 11-point win over the Eagles yesterday after scores were tied at the last change to set up a match with Cobden.
In the netball, North Warrnambool Eagles’ 14 and under side advanced to the grand final after defeating South Warrnambool by 15 goals.
The Eagles will now play Warrnambool, which won its second semi-final clash by a goal.
Camperdown will play South Warrnambool in the 16 and under grand final after scoring a two-goal win over Hawks yesterday.