NORTH Warrnambool Eagles’ history-making season hit a high point yesterday as David Haynes’ men put their finals rivals on notice.
The Eagles were clinical in thrashing a wounded Camperdown in the first semi-final to move into the preliminary final for the first time against Cobden.
Marcus Darmody was the best of an impressive team, which won 17.11 (113) to 8.3 (51) at Friendly Societies’ Park.
As if to underline their dominance, the Eagles scored as much in the first term as the Magpies did for the match.
The irresistible display would have made preliminary final opponent Cobden — and grand finalist Warrnambool for that matter — take notice.
North was quick, attacking and pinpoint. It kicked long and precise with the wind and was just as capable chipping the ball coming out of defence.
Its 8.3 to 2.0 burst in the first term set up the win, with David Haynes, Tom Batten and Jeremy Parkinson all on the score sheet.
Michael Darmony worked hard to contest at half- forward and Jordan Dillon competed well in the ruck.
Onballers Dean Gavin, Andy McMeel and Jarryd Lewis were also damaging by foot.
Batten’s first goal — the Eagles’ third — was a piece of individual brilliance.
The captain intercepted a chip pass on the 50-metre line, ran to 40 and kicked truly. The goal put North up by 14 and on its way.
Jahd Anderson replied for Camperdown before Haynes marked and converted on the goal line, sparking a run of five goals late in the first term.
But as impressive as the Eagles’ attack was, their defence also deserved credit.
Camperdown was supposed to mount its fightback in the second quarter kicking to the scoring end, but added just 2.2 to win the term by a point.
The Magpies were partly to blame for their woes. The Eagles’ defence, led superbly by Marcus Darmody, deserved the most credit.
Brendan Murfett split the honours against Sam Gordon, while Adam Wines, Sam Batten, Mitch Bowman, Joel Nestor and Darcy Keast rebounded well.
But Darmody stood out. The strongly-built VFL footballer collected 42 touches and took 16 marks.
He treated the Friendlies as if it was his backyard, where he could do what he wanted. Cobden coach Wayne Robertson would do well to play a defensive forward on him come this weekend, such was his influence.
“Across all lines I think we had winners across the board. In big games you need that,” Haynes said.
“Getting on the scoreboard early helped, too.”
The game was over by half-time, with North up by 38 points and Camperdown losing players fast.
Magpies Daniel Baker and Matt Sinnott didn’t last to the long break and Aaron Sinnott eventually succumbed to a hamstring complaint.
Luke Clarke, Aaron Davis and Jesse Hanegraaf also picked up injuries but had to play out the match.
Those setbacks compounded the pre-match omission of Sam Chapman, who failed to recover from a knee injury and scratched cornea suffered last weekend.
Add the suspended Luke Molan and injured Luke Mahony and Charlie Bradshaw to the Magpies’ sidelined list and the picture becomes clearer.
Camperdown wasn’t horrible, just well beaten.
Adrian Murray, Hayden Mitchell, Darren Cheeseman and Tom Gordon won plaudits for their efforts in defence and the midfield.
Defender-cum-forward Jahd Anderson was the Magpies leading goalkicker with two majors.
North might just have taken flag favouritism, but it still has a preliminary final hurdle to overcome.