Panthers Into The 2023 Grand Final

Carey Park are into the Dale Alcock Homes South West, 2023 SWFL Grand Final after defeating South Bunbury at Kelly Park on Sunday afternoon, before a Preliminary Final record crowd of 2264.

It was a stunning turn around for the Panthers, who only two weeks ago in the Qualifying Final were defeated by South Bunbury by 47 points, on the same ground.

Sydney Stack leaps high

The match started at a hectic pace with both teams hitting the scoreboard early, with key forwards Ryan King of Carey Park and Leigh Kohlmann of South Bunbury kicking early goals.  The Panthers would take a two point lead into quarter time, after Rory O’Brien received a 50m penalty on the stroke of quarter time, converting from the goal line.

The Panthers kicked two quick goals to start the second term, including one to King, as the Panthers opened a margin of 14 points over the Tigers.  Leigh Kohlmann snapped a brilliant goal at the Southern End to narrow the margin again, as both teams went toe to toe in a great contest worth of a Preliminary Final.   A late goal to Ryan King after a strong mark gave the Panthers a fifteen point half time lead.

The Tigers threw everything at Carey Park in the third term, with goals to Jace Cormack and Leigh Kohlmann, bringing the Tigers within a point of the Panthers in a stirring comeback, which had the record crowd at fever pitch midway through the term.  Bryce Fiorentino goaled, giving the Panthers some breathing space with just a goal separating the two teams with a quarter to play.

Ryan King takes a slips catch.

Kade Szyszka reduced the margin to a point, and it remained that way for sometime, but Rory O’Brien kicked an excellent rovers goal to extend the margin again.  The Tigers threw everything at the Panthers in the final term, but the defence was up to the task, winning a great match.  O’Brien was everywhere and was certainly one of the best on the ground, along with Cooper Sparks, who did go off the ground injured but returned and played a good game.

Carey Park who finished a lowly eighth in 2022, are just one win away from a fairy-tale season, but come up against Busselton, who have suffered just one loss for the season.

Carey Park  3.1.19  6.3.39  7.3.45  9.6.60
South Bunbury  2.5.17  3.6.24  5.9.39  6.12.48

Goals:  Carey Park – Ryan King 3, Rory O’Brien 2, Luke Hutchinson 1, Brady Lenaghan 1, Cooper Sparks 1, Bryce Fiorentino 1.  South Bunbury – Leigh Kohlmann 3, Jace Cormack 1, Ben Horsman 1, Kade Szyszka 1.
Best:  Carey Park –  Rory O’Brien, Cooper Sparks, Bryce Fiorentino, Cameron Baker, Luke Hutchinson, Ryan King.  South BunburyBlake Piggott, Jace Cormack, Ethan Nordahl, Ben Horsman.
Ground:  Kelly Park
Umpires:  Cameron Valenti, Scott Jones, Aaron Andrews
Reports:  Nil
Crowd: 2264

Lachlan Princi (SB) and Harley Sparks (CP) attacking the ball on the members wing. Photos courtesy of Wayne Hislop