Albanvale has proven it has the mental toughness to go all the way in the Western Region Football League division 3 finals.
The top-ranked Cobras survived an almighty examination from Sunshine Heights in the second semi-final at Pennell Reserve on Saturday to run out 10-point victors.
Finals are meant to be hard and grand finals have to be earned, but Cobras coach Andrew Bryson was hoping it was not going to be as tough as this, as it took until deep into time-on of the last quarter for his side to finally break the Heights’ resolve.
The Cobras slithered their way into a grand final, where they will face the winner of the preliminary final clash between Sunshine Heights and Glen Orden.
“It’s probably more of a feeling of relief than anything else,” Bryson said. “There was no real free flowing moments, it was all just pressure.
“It was a fight from the start and right through till the end.
“There was happiness to see us get through to the grand final, but at the same time there was relief that we were actually able to get ourselves in front and stay in front.”
Albanvale was staring down the barrel early in the last quarter.
The Cobras entered the fourth quarter five points in arrears and then conceded the first two goals of the last quarter to trail by 17.
Knowing they had a double chance, the Cobras could have put such a deficit into the too-hard basket, but instead fought their way back into the game for a remarkable win.
Bryson knew the Cobras had it in them and the players shared that belief.
“One of the things we’ve spoken about all year is our connectedness,” Bryson said.
“We’re really wanting to drive each other and that’s what happened in that last quarter.
“They kicked the first two goals in the last quarter, but we just found a way to keep coming.
“We thought, ‘we’re still a chance here’, we backed ourselves to work through that grind and we kept trusting in each other.
“It wasn’t flash, it wasn’t pretty, it was a lot of hard work and working through that grind.”
Josh Michetti had a profound influence for Albanvale in the last quarter.
The ruckman did it all at the centre bounces and with his follow-up at ground level.
“We were down two on the bench in the last quarter and one of them was our other ruckman,” Bryson said. “Josh rucked the whole last quarter and was phenomenal with his ruck work and his second and third efforts.
“I think he took three or four intercept marks. He really stood up.”
Daniel Backus performed strongly for Albanvale both in the back pocket and on the wing, getting his hands dirty to win a lot of contested ball.
Darren Borg floated across midfield and half-forward and consistently presented an option.
Bobby Saric’s four-quarter effort was rewarded with two goals. Saric was one of three Cobras players who kicked two goals, along with Kym Taylor and Dane Thomas.
The game-sealing goal was fittingly kicked by Liam Ryan.
“He’s been an on-field leader for us all year,” Bryson said.
In the first semi-final, Glen Orden took care of business with a 41-point win over Tarneit.