Panthers in final after royal rout
THE Pottsville Panthers continued their push for premiership glory in devastating fashion on Saturday, embarrassing South Lismore 6-1 in a one-sided Football Far North Coast semi-final.
Running on before a season's-best crowd at Koala Beach Sports Field, the Panthers entered the game like a team possessed, fixated on making their first division rivals' night a long one.
“I was really impressed with the way the troops performed, really happy,” captain/coach David Lonie said.
“The boys were hungry for it and got stuck into them from the start.
“We just stuck to the game plan, and controlled the contest with good, possession football.
“The communication among the lads was fantastic, particularly from the backline, which showed me how much they all wanted it,” Lonie said.
With the lion's share of the ball and plenty of attacking prowess, it didn't take long for the floodgates to open for the Panthers.
A stunning goal early and another before the break caused the Souths tempers to boil.
“When we struck early you could seen their temperatures rise,” Lonie said.
“They were getting frustrated and increasingly playing dirty.
“I just reiterated to the boys that they weren't to get involved.”
Rather, the Pottsville players did their talking with their feet, fuelling the fire with a barrage of classy strikes.
Doubles for the unstoppable combination of James Boag and Adam Rogers, and goal each for Blaze Cole and Michael Kollovos, and the Panthers had their demoralising half-dozen.
The more the Panther's found the net the more physical the match became, and it came as no surprise when the referee had had enough and began issuing a string of cards.
Several yellows were given for a series of ordinary tackles and it was only a matter of time before the visitors saw red.
Lonie, running towards the play, had his legs kicked from underneath him, leaving the officials no choice but to issue a red.
A lapse from the Panthers allowed the southerners to sneak a goal back, but they were never in the contest.
“I just want to thank everybody that showed up to support us,” Lonie said.
“I've never seen the place so packed out and the boys really enjoyed playing in front of such a crowd.
“Now we'll enjoy our week off, rest a few niggling injuries and get ready for the big one (grand final).”
In the second semi-final, underdogs Woodburn Wolves continued their stellar finals form to hold runners-up Richmond Rovers to a 2-2 draw.
However, Rovers prevailed in the resulting penalty shoot-out, banging home seven of their spot kicks to Wolves' six.
The results mean Souths and Richmond face off in next Saturday's elimination final, for the right to face Pottsville at Lismore's Barrow Lane on Friday, September 25.