The Yass Roos have limped out of premiership contention following their second consecutive loss in the 2023 AFL Canberra Community Men’s Division Three finals series. 

Yass were defeated 7.9.51 to 7.3.45 by the Goulburn Swans in Saturday’s Preliminary Final at Stirling Oval, with the minor premiers of the competition not able to continue their excellent form in the past fortnight. 

The narrow six-point loss ended the Roos’ season, while Goulburn booked their place in the Grand Final to take on Murrumbateman this weekend. 

Yass were the better side early, kicking four goals to two and took an 11-point lead into the first change. 

In a tight second quarter, Yass kicked the only goal and slightly extended their lead to 16 points at the main break. 

 

However, the Swans hit the accelerator in the premiership quarter and flew back into contention by kicking three goals to one and only trailed by three points at the last break. 

From there, Goulburn had all the momentum and finished the better side, with their two-goal to-one final quarter proving enough to earn a spot in the Grand Final. 

Yass Roos Indigenous Guernsey

The usually dominant offensive side in Yass was highly tested on Saturday by the Swan’s defence and could only manage seven goals on the day. 

Captain Sam Williams led by the front with two goals as did Joven May, while Darcy Paine, Lachlan Gillam and Ryan Ulrich all chipped in with one each. 

Max Shadbolt, Dom Johns, Rex Stacey, Lachlan Cossins, Jake Collins, Darcy Paine were all among the Roos best against the Swans however, just couldn’t pull their team across the line in the close affair. 

Yass Assistant Coach and player Tom Lemmon spoke to The Times following Saturday’s disappointing result.

 

“I thought in the first half we played some pretty good footy and we were converting really well. After halftime, they came at us in the third quarter and we probably went away from a few of the things that we were doing well, in terms of our attacking play and especially taking the game on by using the corridor,” Lemmon said. 

“Once we gave them a bit of a sniff, they certainly got their tails up and ran us down. The boys were very flat after the game. We obviously had a few injuries last week but it’s still no excuse for us losing that game.

 

“The boys are pretty down on themselves especially after being up in the game as well and looking like the better side for much of that first half. The boys are devastated. 

 

“We would’ve preferred to play at Joe O’Connor, but I don’t think we can use that as any kind of excuse. It certainly was a big ground which probably played, in some ways, into the way that we like to play, but it didn’t seem to help.

“Max Shadbolt, Dom Johns, and Lachie Cossins across the wing and half-backline really played out of their skins. Darcy Paine made a return to his midfield roots to cover some unavailable players and was very good.

“Josh Horrobin who only just qualified to play finals towards the end of the season, coming back from a broken finger, provided us with some really good structure as well.”

 

Lemmon said one of the major factors in the momentum of the game turning around was when Ben O’Connor was knocked unconscious late in the second quarter via a late sling tackle.

“There was a big pause just before half time when Ben O’Connor was knocked out by one of the Goulburn players. I don’t think we really put our heads back right after that. That moment didn’t help us in continuing the momentum that we had,” Lemmon continued. 

“The Goulburn player received a yellow card for the late sling tackle, but I don’t know if that’s perhaps quite enough. We were down a player for the rest of the game, and he got to come back on after 15 minutes and kicked a goal. It was a tough situation.”

 

Roos President and Player Jarrad Forlonge also commented on the pivotal concussion moment and how it changed the rest of the game. 

 

“Ben was definitely one of our most important players being our full forward and ruck, so he’s not a player that is easily replaced, particularly so early in the game,” Forlonge said. 

“With the weather and the big ground, to be down a rotation like that, it certainly had an impact and probably took a little bit of the sting out of the game whilst we had to wait to get him off the field. It certainly halted the momentum a little bit.

 

“We definitely had our chances after he was off and tried to galvanise the group, but it certainly was a distraction and an issue that we didn’t want to have to deal with.

 

“It’s obviously disappointing and frustrating for such a young player to go through something like that on the football field and everything that went around it for his family and the players that were on scene, it was not a great look.

 

“Ben was unconscious for about three minutes and had to be stretched off obviously due to all the spinal and neck checks. The ambulance was called and it was a really distressing scene there. To see one of your young blokes being taken off the field on a stretcher isn’t nice to see.”

 

The Roos players and coaches will have an end-of-season function in Yass on Saturday to wrap up their year and enjoy the season that was. 

 

“We’re going to get together as a playing group with our families and supporters on Saturday and have a social event. No doubt the drinks will go long into the night, with a bit of a dress up on Sunday to put a full stop to the end of the year,” Forlonge continued. 

 

“It’ll be nice to celebrate the achievements of the year and whilst we didn’t achieve the ultimate goal, there’s still a lot to be proud of. It’s important to get together as a group and enjoy each other’s company, particularly because the mood was quite down on Saturday. 

 

On a more positive note for the Club, Steve O’Brien played his 150th game for the Roos last Saturday against the Eagles, which was recognised with the players running through a banner prior to the game. 

“Steve has been at the Club for 11 years now. He’s done everything at the Club, he hasn’t just been a player. Steve has been a former President and Treasurer of the Club and is on the committee at the moment,” Forlonge continued. 

 

“He’s also won a premiership, is a member of the Team of the Decade, and has been in the leadership group, so he’s a true example of a club man. Steve’s only the sixth person in the history of the Roos to play 150 games, so it’s a fantastic achievement that doesn’t happen every day.

“We were glad that we could celebrate for him despite the result not going the way we wanted it to last week, but we definitely made it known how important he is and has been to the Club.”

 

The Roos will celebrate their season and players at the end-of-season presentation night on Friday 22nd September.

 

Tim Warren