Echuca a bridge too far for brave Tigers

By Brayden May

THE Rochester football fairytale is over after going down by 26 points against rivals Echuca in the Goulburn Valley League semi-final on Sunday.

After starting the year 0-4, the Tigers finals chances looked shot after the opening month of the season but they rallied to a fourth place finish.

Rochester entered Sunday's game on the back of five straight wins and in wet and wild conditions they threatened to cause the biggest boil-over of the Goulburn Valley League season.

But as they have done in several games this year, the Tigers failed to make the most of their opportunities - most notably a behind with only seconds remaining in the third term.

A goal would have brought the margin back to seven points.

From there, the Murray Bombers kept the Tigers at bay to end James Flaherty's tenure as coach.

‘‘At half-time and even three-quarter time we thought we were still in the game, but they sort of grinded us down as good sides do,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘But the effort was there today, we probably just couldn’t capitalise on a few shots at goal early.

‘‘Five years (of coaching), there’s a lot of ups and downs, but more ups than downs that’s for sure.

‘‘I can sort of relax a bit more now, but ‘Stroobs’ (incoming coach Steven Stroobants) was here last week and here this week and no doubt they’ll keep going forward (under him).’’

With their backs up against the wall and Flaherty on the sidelines due to injury, Rochy needed their leaders to stand up.

And they couldn't have given anymore to their side's cause.

‘‘James Gledhill was good down back we though on whichever match up he went to, they had a dangerous forward line and his year’s been really good,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘Nath McCarty and Jackson McEwen through the midfield were pretty good too.

‘‘Matty Kellett, Jaycob Dingwall, they’ve turned into really good defenders over the last year or two as young kids coming through, so hopefully we can keep the group there and they can keep developing.

‘‘At the end of the day it was probably a good result to get to where we got to. If we started a bit sharper and stuff like that who knows, but it is what it is and we’re happy to have made it this far.’’