Virginia too classy in Reserves final

THE win for the Virginia Reserves over Mallala was part of a huge weekend for the club, with the senior side also claiming the flag to complete a special premiership double.

While many expected the match to be a one-sided affair, the Magpies took it right up to the Rams in a thrilling encounter.

Virginia opened the better side and despite being reasonably dominant in the first quarter, they only took a 14-point lead into the first break.

Matt Stones was dangerous early with two goals but was later shifted to half back.

Mallala then countered brilliantly, slamming on five goals to one in the second term.

Lewis Bruggemann put the Magpies in front and Chris Bilney extended the lead moments later, the underdogs going into the break full of running.

Justin Platt got the Rams back on target with a brilliant checkside from deep in the pocket and Chris Strange put Virginia back in front soon after.

Matt Saunders slotted a vital major late in the term to put Mallala back in front at three quarter time but Virginia had significantly lifted.

Three Virginia goals, including two to Steven Lioulios, helped give the Rams some breathing space, but Brett Jenkin kicked a steadier for Mallala to close the margin back to eight points.

The Rams again responded, Lewis Bannear icing the cake for Virginia.

Veteran, Anthony Johnston, was named best on ground, his class around the ground a feature on the day.

Rams coach, Mark Matheson, said Mallala played extremely well and would have deserved the win if they had got up.

“They put a loose man back, which blocked up our space up forward,” he said.

“They adjusted to the game well and forced us to make some changes to address that.”

Matheson praised his team for responding to the challenge, with Steve Lioulios going forward due to soreness, which meant a reshuffle in defence, while co-captain, George Stiliasano, was pushed into the ruck.

“The changes brought some blokes into the game and we were able to win a lot more ball through the midfield,” Matheson said.

“Johno (Anthony Johnston) was impose himself on the game in the second half, his poise and confidence was vital for us.”

Johnston was one of several lads with senior footy experience, including the likes of Lewis Bannear, Con Mylonopoulos, Rocky Perre and Steven Peter, while new faces, Chris Strange, along with the Stones boys, Matt and James, have played A1 footy with Salisbury North.

Platt was kept to just the one goal but played an important hand in setting a number of other opportunities up.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for how well he plays,” Matheson said.

“He’s a class forward who attracts two or three opponents, and we probably didn’t get the ball in quickly enough to him on the weekend.

“He doesn’t need a lot of touches to have an impact and having his strength up there really straightens us up.”

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