Late goal seals thriller

Todd Finco and Jarryd Graham go hard at the ball in the community football interleague championships on Saturday. Picture Shawn Smits

A goal in the dying minutes to Western Region forward Andrew Panayi handed the Ballarat Football League an agonising three-point loss in the community football interleague championships on Saturday.

In one of the closest matches of the championships, the WRFL came out on top, 13.17 (95) – 13.14 (92), at Footscray’s Whitten Oval in.

Although the match finished as a classic, it appeared likely to be a blowout early in the second term.

The WRFL skipped away to a 34-point lead on the back of four unanswered goals.

Then the BFL launched a spirited fightback. Derick Micallef got the ball rolling with his first goal of the match before Mitchell Banner, Nathan Pring, Damian Cupido, Daniel Tung and Jarryd Graham got in on the act, the BFL kicking six of the last seven goals in the half to trail by just two points at the main break.

The momentum continued to swing when play resumed.

It was the WRFL that drew first blood, kicking back-to-back goals to open up a 16-point advantage.

But as they had done previously, the BFL players rallied with four unanswered goals to take the lead early in the final term.

WRFL forward Daniel Castellano had been a headache for the Ballarat backline all day and he continued the punishment, the Sunshine spearhead booting two crucial goals, giving him four for the match and taking his team to a 10-point lead at midpoint of the last quarter.

Micallef pegged one of the goals back before Matthew Notman put the BFL in front with just minutes remaining.

Then Panayi ensured the WRFL would have the last laugh, the talented Werribee Districts forward kicking the match-winning goal.

Despite the loss, Nicholas Hind was a clear standout for the BFL and, with teammates Benjamin Sortino and Lane Buckwell, was named among the best players.

For the WRFL, Matthew Dean and Murray Boyd were adjudged key players on the day.

On the back of the win, the WRFL moves to sixth in the AFL Victoria community championship rankings.

It will take on the Northern Football League in 2017.

The BFL drops to ninth and has a date with Bendigo next year.