The Pambula Panthers women have won the minor semi-final to advance in the Sapphire Coast AFL competition.
Amid sickness and injury concerns, and with a limited bench, the Panthers rallied to cast aside the Narooma Lions 7-10-52 to 4-4-28.
The Panthers had the full complement on the field, but opened the game with just one player on the sidelines and worked hard to get a strong start.
Britt Salt dominated possessions out of the middle and was indomitable in getting play forward to her attacking lines.
Lee Collimore started the match off well, using her speed and finesse to dart around the Narooma defence. However, she suffered a head knock later in the piece and was slowed up a little by the injury.
The Panthers have been one of the top performing women’s squads and showed why they finished third in the opening quarter, jumping out to a two-goal lead, while keeping Narooma scoreless.
The second quarter provided more of the same as the Panthers extended their grip on the match, kicking three goals.
With a good display out of the middle, Romy Cook was a strong finisher for the Panthers with a three-goal haul on the day.
Annie Gilbert also bagged an impressive goal before copping a rib injury.
By the main break the Panthers had kicked to a 36-point lead before the Lions could begin fighting their way back into the contest.
While Annie was able to return to the field a further injury to key defender Adriane Reardon saw the Panthers again cut to just one substitute and the Lions clawed their way back into play in the second half.
The Lions switched out some of their positions and were able to secure a little more possession in the middle and push some play forward for themselves.
However, the Pambula back line was solid with Chantal Gleeson heading up a strong defensive effort for the Panthers’ outfit.
The Lions were able to kick a couple of goals, but still trailed by 30 points at the three quarter break.
The Panthers doubled down defensively and worked hard to contain the rallying Lions contingent, while also getting a few scoring opportunities for themselves.
The Panthers will now advance to the preliminary final against the loser of Tathra and Eden from this weekend’s draw.
Major semi-finals will be held in Narooma this weekend with the Panthers to feature in both seniors and the development grade.
The Panthers will face the Lions in both outings at Narooma’s Bill Smyth Memorial Oval on Saturday.
Senior games go ahead from 11.50am with the minor premier Panthers running out as favourite in the development grade and close clash is expected in the Seniors at 2.30pm.