The Willunga Football Club showed what a resilient football side they are when they defeated Yankalilla by 26 points at Myponga oval on Saturday in the Great Southern Football League 2017 preliminary final.
The Demons led from start to finish and proved their doubters wrong in a game played in perfect conditions.
The Tigers were favourites after coming from the elimination final and defeating Goolwa/Port Elliot by 98 points and Langhorne Creek by 31 points in successive weeks.
Willunga’s form guide had been disappointing coming into the preliminary final, although it did finish minor premiers.
The Demons lost their last minor round fixture to eighth placed Encounter Bay, had the first week of the finals off and then were embarrassed by Mount Compass in the second semi final to the tune of 66 points.
So to most observers, it was the Tigers with all the momentum come preliminary final day.
The Demons looked the side that ruled the competition for the first nine rounds right from the start, as Haskett was on fire around the football and Standfield was a colossus every time he competed for the ball in the air.
The bigger bodies of the Demons was paving the way for the mosquito fleet to take off and leave the Tigers chasing jumpers.
In the first term the Demons kicked goals from the likes Altus, Haskett, Garrett and Hutchens, while the Tigers could only manage one from Fittock.
The second term saw the game open up and this fell into the hands of the Willunga unit. Both teams used the open spaces of the Myponga oval well, but it was the pace of Boyd, Beath, Altus, Brown, Sherry and Balas, which cracked the Tigers open.
Burdett, Beath, Haskett, Balas and Garrett all hit the scoreboard and if not for outstanding defending by Crawford and Wiese, Yankalilla would have been in more trouble.
To the Tigers’ credit, they managed four goals through Kane, James, Brazier and Jelinek, but the margin at the long break had blown out to 27 points.
The third term was very fitting with both teams holding firm and Willunga protecting its lead.
Fittock was trying to hold the back half together with Wiese and Crawford and up forward James came into his own and became a real focal point.
James booted three goals for the term and single handedly was lifting his side. Sidebottom and Kay were doing their best and Kane was always completing the brave acts.
However, Willunga had answers through their big men who could not be stopped. Haskett, Standfield, Luke Collier and Thomas were playing well and Burdett popped up with two goals and Brown showed class to slot another for Willunga to be up by 29 points going into the last.
In the last quarter Yankalilla showed great character to fight back with two more goals to James and a long bomb from Smith, but it was too late. Season 2017 was over for the Tigers, losing by 26 points, a lead set up in the first half by a fast and skillful Willunga outfit.
Best for Willunga were Boyd, Haskett, Beath, Sherry, Altus and Balas and for Yankalilla, none tried harder than Sidebottom, James, who kicked six goals, Kane, Wiese, Bond, Jelinek and Kay.
Willunga will play Mount Compass at Strathalbyn for the GSFL 2017 A grade premiership on Saturday.