Sunshine Kangaroos to shape final five

Patrick O'Keefe. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Lance Jenkinson

One kick away from a premiership last season, Sunshine Kangaroos will almost certainly not even feature in the Western Region Football League division 1 finals this September.

To stay alive in the finals race, the sixth-placed Kangaroos realistically needed to beat fifth-placed Spotswood at McLean Reserve on Saturday.

But they came away empty-handed after a 34-point loss.

With the Kangaroos two-and-a-half games outside the top five with four rounds to go, coach Brendan Hallinan conceded his side’s finals hopes were dashed.

“This was it,” he said. “We built this game up to be a final.

“If we had won this game, it would put us in a position where we’d be right back in the mix.

“Mathematically, I’d guess there’s still a small chance, but I wouldn’t even know what that is now.”

Sunshine generated a buzz of excitement in the pre-season after going so close to breaking up Deer Park’s domination of the competition in last year’s grand final classic.

Yet while the Kangaroos were tipped to give the competition a shake, they have barely threatened this campaign.

“One year you’re playing like we were last year and the next year we’re decimated with injuries and just trying to make the most of a season,” Hallinan said.

Sunshine will take steps in the final month of the season to shape a revival for next season.

The Kangaroos will continue to look at the youngsters such as Harrison Minett, Jordan Davis and Patrick O’Brien, who have stepped up admirably amid all the injuries.

They will assess the futures of some of the senior players.

“There’s excitement around the club knowing we’ve got a few of those kids coming through,” Hallinan said. “At the end of the year, there will be a clean out of sorts. There will probably be a few retirements and we’ll re-shape the list.”

Finals might be a bridge too far, but Sunshine is keen to round out the season on a high.

They will go in as underdogs against in-form Hoppers Crossing this Saturday at Hogans Road Reserve, but will start as favourites against Albion, St Albans and Caroline Springs.

The Kangaroos beat all of those teams in the first half of the season.

Even four wins may not be enough to get Sunshine to the finals, with Spotswood only needing to win two in a soft run home.

“We’ve got a few returning next week, so we’re going to load up against Hoppers Crossing and try and shape the five as best as we can,” Hallinan said.

“We want to go out with a sense of pride. We don’t want tails between the legs and feeling sorry for ourselves … we don’t want anyone feeling sorry for the Sunshine Football Club.

“We’re not taking the foot off the pedal – we’re going to finish off strong.”

In other division 1 games, Deer Park slaughtered Albion by 139 points to solidify its spot at the top of the ladder.

Chris Stewart continued his goalkicking form for the Lions with six majors.

St Albans put up a great fight against finals-bound Altona before losing a low-scoring affair by seven points.

In division 2, Albanvale lost by 110 points to North Footscray.

The Cobras face an improbable task in their bid to avoid the wooden spoon.

In division 3, Sunshine Heights pipped Laverton by six points to keep its mathematical finals chances alive.

North Sunshine was mauled by 129 points by Tarneit, which is fast becoming a premiership threat.

Braybrook was steamrolled by Point Cook Centrals by 108 points.

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