They took the long route but Coleambally are into their first grand final in six seasons in the Farrer League.
The Blues have a date with East Wagga-Kooringal at the big dance following a dramatic preliminary final win over the Northern Jets on Saturday in extra time.
And they got there on the back of a Pounding, with brothers Shane, Tony, Carl and Dean Pound playing together for the first time this season (Jay was forced into retirement last year).
Dean provided the pre-game inspiration when he made a shock comeback after being out since April 9, when a couple of corks deteriorated into compartment syndrome and required urgent surgery.
After coming off the bench midway through the first quarter, the 2014 Clear Medallist provided the target Coleambally needed up forward, finding four goals in his first game in five months.
“It was a great game for someone who’s missed however many weeks with that sort of injury,” Coleambally coach Josh Hamilton said.
“And confidence has got to be a big thing as well. He did a great job.”
But it was the eldest sibling, Shane, at 38 years of age, who delivered the masterclass in inspirational plays.
He popped up for two goals in Coleambally’s fourth-quarter fightback. The second, with 20 minutes gone, was from outside 50 metres and gave his side the lead for the first time since early in the third quarter.
The quietly spoken midfielder knew how to grab the spotlight from his brother.
“It was a bit like that – I thought I better pull my finger out in the last quarter and do something,” he said.
Full-back Carl continued his enormous finals series with a big fourth quarter.
He then had himself in position to be awarded a controversial mark in extra time to prevent a Jets victory.
And when the ball went up the other end, it was Shane who kicked the winning point in a moment reminiscent of Tony Lockett for the Swans in the 1996 AFL preliminary final.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left,” Shane said. “I was hoping for a goal then I was just hoping to make the line but I wasn’t sure whether time had gone or not.”
In a career spanning nearly 340 senior games (with all-but one season with the Blues), it was his first taste of extra time.
“It’s pretty good,” he said of the Blues getting the chance to end an 11-year break between flags.
“We’ll go in as underdogs and see how we go. They (EWK) are pretty good. They’ll be up and about.”
Coleambally have their concerns. Backman Wes Kiley is unlikely to recover from his knee injury. Midfielder James Fallon is in doubt after injuring a hamstring in the first half. The Blues also overcame the late withdrawal of Brandon Mathews with a back complaint, while Hamilton was nursing ice on a sore hand.
“We’ll all be right,” the coach said.
Hamilton was named the Blues’ best but also courted controversy, sparking the ire of Jets fans in a confrontation with Andrew Bonny in front of the umpire.
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