Pinjarra ensured they would have the chance to defend their Peel Football and Netball League premiership crown when they punched their ticket to the grand final with a 14-point win over Rockingham on Saturday.
The Rams came home strong in the final term with three goals to Pinjarra’s none but never truly challenged the Tigers’ lead as a four-goal haul from Leroy Jetta and a terrific performance from Rory O’Brien helped pave the way to a 10.7 (67) to 7.11 (53) win.
The ex-Peel Thunder premiership duo were in hot form throughout the preliminary final clash, sewing up the Tigers’ spot in the big dance with complete four-quarter efforts despite inspiring efforts from several Rams on the day.
Jetta was in ominous form early and looked set for a big day when he nailed the game’s opening two goals, the first of which coming after he took a spectacular one-handed grab under heavy pressure from Ram Andrew Walsh.
O’Brien followed suit with his own handiwork as he hit the scoreboard with a snap around the body in the face of pressure from Mitchel Curnow, gifting Pinjarra a three-goal lead at quarter time.
But through the constant efforts of ruckman Andrew Stokes and defender Travis Naughton, Rockingham was able to strike back in the opening stages of the second with Luke Dowling snaring the squad’s first goal.
They looked set to come back into the frame with Fraser Millar and Zayne Selkirk putting in strong efforts around the ground, but it was Tiger Josh O’Brien bagging the next goal as he gave his side the settler they were after.
Two goals to Mitchell Anderson helped Rockingham keep in touch but Lloyd Padwick, Joel O’Driscoll and Jetta all found goals before the long break to go in 27 points up.
Tempers spilled over when the half time siren sounded with Rockingham’s Dylan Hill shown a red card, and it was the Tigers responding the quickest coming out of the break.
Pinjarra’s defence dominated for most of the day with Dean Beswick, Brendon Coxon and Jarrod Bowman rarely losing a contest, while up the other end goals to Todd Ninyette and Dom Hardy pushed their lead out to 39 points.
Tim Taylor gave the Rams some hope when he found the goals but as it was all day the Tigers had their reply at the ready with Jetta returning the favour almost immediately.
But the Rams refused to die wondering as they came out strong in the face of a six-goal deficit in the fourth term.
Dowling secured an easy goal after he was given a free kick for a push in the back, while Selkirk converted after a 50m penalty against Beswick took him within range.
Dowling would go on to find Rockingham’s third for the term late but the Tigers had been able to control enough play and whittle away enough time to secure their place in the 2018 grand final.
That clash will be a rematch with Centrals, following on from their fiery semi final bout that saw the Blues run out 16-point winners.
Meanwhile the loss ends a stellar season for the young Rockingham outfit, who exceeded expectations with a preliminary final berth.
Stay tuned to mandurahmail.com.au for all your coverage in the week leading up to the 2018 PFNL grand final, including interviews with players, coaches and previews to the big game.