Brad Holmes finished as close to a century of goals as you possibly can without breaking into the triple figures as he inspired South Mandurah to a win over the second-placed Baldivis Brumbies on Sunday afternoon.
The Southies spearhead went into the final game of the regular season on 91 majors with his eight-goal bag enough to push him to 99, narrowly missing out on breaking into 100 territory.
But despite missing the century the full forward was still able to enjoy a 14.12 (96) to 8.9 (57) win with his Falcons in teammate Cory Wilson’s 100th game, as a big second half spurred them to their third straight victory ahead of the finals.
Going against a somewhat undermanned Baldivis outfit the Falcons still found themselves locked in a tight first-half battle.
Both outfits booted two goals in the opening term to head into the first break with scores tied at 14, but a five-goal second quarter helped the Falcons take a six-point buffer into the half time break.
But the second half belonged to the home side, with South Mandurah keeping Baldivis goalless in the third term while majors to Andrew Haydon and Aaron Zucconi allowed the hosts out to a 19-point advantage at the final break.
From there Holmes got motoring to ensure the Southies would take home the victory, booting four of his eight in the final term as he made a late dash at the century.
First-gamer James Wiltshire also hit the scoreboard in the final term, as South Mandurah ended the day with a 39-point win.
Chris Swarts was outstanding for the Falcons across the four quarters, while Hayden Lynn and Sam Barndon led the way for the visitors.
Falcons coach Paul Pannell said it was a spiriting win for the club in front of a home crowd that featured South Mandurah’s 1998 and 2008 premiership heroes.
“To win while the club was holding our 10 and 20-year premiership reunions was quite special,” he said.
“Obviously it would have been great if Brad (Holmes) had kicked his 100th goal but if you know him you know he’s all about the team first and he’ll be happy to just come away with a win and head into finals.”
The first week of the post-season will see South Mandurah hitting the road to take on Rockingham, with Pannell saying his side was looking forward to the challenge.
“We’re really excited – it’s another big test for our young group but we’re happy with our form heading in,” he said.
“It’s going to be a great game between two pretty young sides looking to make an impact on the finals.”
Meanwhile the Brumbies head back to their Baldivis base as they prepare to host Centrals in a qualifying final.
B. Holmes 8, S. Evans 2, J. Wiltshire, A. Haydon, A. Zucconi, C. Callaghan
E. Collard, C. Schnaars, J. Heal, W. Steele, B. Tingey, C. Black, M. Wilson, J. Ritchie
C. Swarts, J. Sutton, B. Holmes, K. Jones, B. Penny
H. Lynn, S. Barndon, J. Heal, T. Ralph