Great Northern fall short in Country Week decider despite fourth-quarter fightback

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Leith Teakle speaks to the group as GNFL went down by 15 points
Camera IconLeith Teakle speaks to the group as GNFL went down by 15 points Credit: Facebook

The GNFL made a strong return to the country week as they made it to the division two grand final but were ultimately outclassed by the Goldfields in the decider.

Great Northern trailed for most of the afternoon but they never went away as they finished runners-up in their return to country week footy, going down 9.8 (62) to 7.5 (47).

Friday morning officially brought an end to GNFL’s three-year hiatus to country week and they started strongly defeating fellow Mid West rivals Central Midlands Coastal 45 to 9.

They then fought off a second-half fightback from Central Wheatbelt who fell short of a boilover by four points as GNFL finished the day second place on the ladder behind Goldfields.

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They met the Goldfields on day two but were outplayed 6.5 (41) to 3.2 (20) with the GNFL held to just one goal in the first half while they also lost ruckman Hayden Johnson to injury.

This turned their final group game against Mortlock into an elimination final with the winner going on to play Goldfields in the final.

But any nerves were quickly dispelled as they dominated the game with Jamie and Kristerfer Ryder kicking two goals each, while Harry Taylor also kicked two in the 7.4 (46) to 2.2 (14) to set up a rematch with the Goldfields on Sunday at Fremantle Oval.

However, they would do it without Taylor who picked up an injury early and spent most of the game on the sideline.

They got the first score of the game from the opening bounce as captain Kim Schofield just missed to the left from around 45m.

But otherwise, Goldfields dominated the opening term as Dylan Clarke found some space and kick through a dribbler for the first major a 50m penalty then gave Jordan Delbridge a shot from 45m and made no mistake to make it two in five minutes.

They could have extended the gap further but missed a couple of chances before a poor kick out of defence gave Kristerfer Ryder a look at goal who converted a much-needed settler for the GNFL side as they trailed 2.4 (16) to 1.1 (7) at quarter time.

Goldfields would score the first of the second as Bailey Taylor went on a run from 50m though GNFL were not without their chances but struggled with their forward entries allowing for multiple intercept marks.

Tim Sutherland added Goldfields’ fourth, soccering it through from the square as they continued to hurt the GNFL with their quick transitions before Ryan Fisher added another after being held without it to take the margin beyond four goals.

They went end to end again but luckily Jake Nuich’s effort was just off line as Great Northern continued to look flat under the relentless pressure.

Ryan Le Tessier had their first look at goals late in the quarter but his shot faded to the right in what was their only score for the quarter trailing at the half 5.5 (35) to 1.2 (8).

Great Northern needed a good start but they would not get it as Tom Gillett took a strong mark and added a sixth for the Goldfields as Great Northern were in danger of being blown away.

They finally broke their goal drought as Henry Perham laid a good tackle and kicked a much-needed goal to keep them in the contest.

But Goldfields responded with Nick Reghenzani scoring on the run from a tight angle but Jamie Williams prevented further damage with his first for the GNFL side.

Sam Burge then received a gift as GNFL kicked straight to him out of defence to score their seventh goal before they added another to see GNFL tail by 35 points at three-quarter time.

Leon Galby finally got on the end of one to get it back to five goals and Jay O’Brien scored his first to keep after Goldfields responded to keep their challenge alive.

But they ultimately left themselves too much to do and though they won the second quarter they would go down by 15 points.

Jayden Schofield was named best on the ground as he continues his stunning return to footy from a lengthy suspension at year.

“Congrats to Goldfields, an unbelievable team, they really taught us a lesson in those first three quarters,” he said.

“To our boys, we’ve all had an amazing weekend, let’s stick together and hit the carnival again hard next year.”

Coach Leith Teakle lauded his side’s attitude despite the loss.

“We didn’t come down last year and I asked you guys in the GNFL to get behind us and send a team and we put together these boys who never said die and had a crack in that last quarter,” he said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the effort and thanks to everyone for a great carnival.”

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