Sunshine Kangaroos kick on for finals

Sunshine’s Jesse Hemmens shrugs off a tackle from Spotswood’s Jason Marks. Picture Shawn Smits

Sunshine Kangaroos will no longer fly under the radar.

The Kangaroos have been admired for their rise up the Western Region Football League division 1 ladder this season, but seldom have they been in the premiership discussion.

That all changes now, following commanding wins over minor premiers Deer Park in the final round of the season and second-placed Spotswood in the qualifying final on Saturday.

The Kangaroos are just one win away from a grand final appearance.

“We keep moving the yardstick in terms of what we can do and we haven’t got a ceiling,” Sunshine coach Brendan Hallinan said.

“No one picked us at the start of the year, no one picked us for this game and no one’s been picking us all year and that’s the way we like it.

“We love the underdog tag and we’ll continue to be the underdog, but we know what we’re doing in our camp.”

It was the manner which Sunshine disposed of Spotswood that turned heads. The Kangaroos margin of victory was 14 points, but that flattered the Woodsmen.

Had the Roos kicked straight – they had a return of 9.29 from 29 scoring shots – it would have been a blow out.

Credit to Spotswood, it pegged the deficit back to single figures in the last quarter before Sunshine steadied for a deserved win.

“One thing you notice about Spotswood is they never give up,” Hallinan said.

“They’re a four-quarter team and their on-field leadership won’t allow them to drop their heads and give in.

“You’ve really got to grind out four quarters against Spotswood, they’re not going to give you anything, especially in finals football.

“They came hard at us in the last quarter and we were able to hold the fort and do what we needed to do to ensure the win.”

Sunshine’s win was set up in a second quarter blitz. Trailing by 13 points at quarter-time, the Kangaroos piled on 5.7 to 0.1 to open up a 23-point half-time lead.

Nathan Lyons was the catalyst for the Roos.

The onballer turned the game on its head with his burst out of the packs.

Lachie Langwell and Ben Christodoulou were superb at the stoppages, but they were aided by some crisp tap work by Jesse McInneny.

Daniel Castellano (three goals) and Lachie Smart were lively in attack for the Roos, while Ben McInneny chimed in with two goals.

It was a rare win for Sunshine over Spotswood – one that puts the other three teams on notice.

“We haven’t beaten Spotswood in such a long time,” Hallinan said.

“We’re playing with a real nothing to lose attitude and everything to gain.”

Sunshine will face Deer Park on Saturday for the right to advance directly to the grand final.

In the elimination final on Sunday, Hoppers Crossing survived a scare to beat Werribee Districts by seven points at Burbank Oval. Ashlin Brown kicked the game-sealing goal for the Warriors in time-on of the last quarter.

It sets up a cut throat semi-final between Spotswood and Hoppers Crossing.