WARRNAMBOOL coach Scott Carter was forced to go for the doctor in Saturday’s tense qualifying final.
With the Blues’ usually-productive forward line being suffocated by Cobden’s defence, kicking just seven goals in the first three quarters, Carter called on defender Peter Corredig to resuscitate Warrnambool’s chances.
After leading by as much as 14 points, Cobden narrowed Warrnambool’s advantage to two points 15 minutes into the final term before Corredig responded to the code blue.
The third-year medical student didn’t need a crash cart and paddles as Carter’s blood pressure rose, instead lowering it when he used his height to juggle a mark deep in the forward pocket 17 minutes into the quarter and then slot a goal.
It was the final goal of the match, giving Warrnambool a 10.15 (75) to 9.12 (66) victory.
Corredig, who predominantly plays as a key defender, was one of three backmen swung forward on Saturday as Carter searched for a height mismatch.
While Corredig seemed calm when he produced the goal, the Deakin University student revealed otherwise.
“I wouldn’t say I love a goal,” Corredig said.
“I get a bit nervous with any goal I kick.
‘‘I wasn’t thinking about what it meant.”
Corredig said his goal hadn’t won the Blues the match, saying his side’s defence had done the job under intense pressure from Cobden in the following 10 minutes before the siren.
Corredig, in his first year with Warrnambool, said he didn’t mind being moved between defence and attack if it helped the team.
Such was the defensive job of Cobden vice-captain Paul Hinkley on Travis Graham and youngster Brendan Richardson on Blues skipper Jason Rowan, alongside veteran Greg Tongs in his 300th club game, Carter shuffled Corredig, Tim O’Keeffe and Sam Cowling between the back and forward lines.
“I thought this year our key position match-ups would be more versatile,” Carter said.
“It’s an important string to have to your bow.”
It helped Warrnambool record its 15th consecutive win over Cobden since the 2008 finals series and set up a second semi-final showdown with Koroit next Saturday.
Carter said the Blues were looking forward to the challenge against the Saints, the only side his Blues haven’t beaten this year.
“Koroit deserved to finish on top. They were the best side all year and they gave us a football lesson out there in round 10.”
The Blues emerged unscathed, with midfielder Tim Hunt having an impact despite being under an injury cloud with a groin complaint.
The Blues yesterday morning had a pool recovery session, while Cobden’s players quickly left Terang Recreation Reserve on Saturday night and headed to Lake Bullen Merri as they look to regroup for Sunday’s first semi-final.
Cobden started strongly on Saturday.
They kicked the first three goals of the match in a tick over six minutes, with Sam Uwland’s two snaps spaced by Brody Mahoney’s first of three. Kicking with the aid of a strong northerly wind, Cobden dominated possession.
Captain Paul Foster and midfielder Joe Dare provided plenty of drive as ruckman Levi Dare gave them first use of the ball. Levi Dare repeatedly marked in front of Warrnambool’s forwards and the Bombers gave Warrnambool no space in the middle of the ground.
When Mahoney kicked his second goal of the game 32 seconds into the second term, Cobden led by 21 points and Warrnambool was in trouble.
But three minutes later Graham marked and goaled from 50 metres and then at the 12-minute mark Rowan followed up with another. In a dour term, that was the extent of the scoring as Warrnambool struggled for accuracy, kicking 2.7 for the period.
The Blues, through ruckman Andrew McCarthy, Damien McCorkell, Darcy Graham, defender Sam Wilson and Jackson Bell, started to get their hands on the footy, evening up the possession count.
With Cobden leading by three points at half-time, it expected to build on the lead kicking with the wind in the third. But Warrnambool, with McCarthy taking several marks across half-back and Josh Walters finding space, looked to be getting on top. From the six-minute mark until the 26-minute mark, both sides squandered opportunities in front of goal.
Then Cowling marked and converted accurately, giving the Blues the lead for the first time, before Rowan leapt high in the goal square and marked. The resulting goal, less than two minutes before the siren, gave Warrnambool the momentum leading into the last quarter with a nine-point buffer.