WITH the Dolphins having already locked in a spot in the Men’s Challenge Cup grand final for 2017, it was up to Triton and Phantoms to fight over who would be their opponents heading into the last round on Saturday.
While they weren’t playing one another, the results out of the games featuring Triton and Phantoms in the Round 9 Challenge Cup action at Claremont Pool was to decide who would play the Pressed Earth Dolphins in this Saturday’s grand final.
The day at Claremont Pool began with Triton doing what they needed to and beating the top-of-the-table Dolphins 12-7.
Unfortunately for Phantoms, that meant their quest for the grand final was over but they still came out and delivered an 8-7 victory over the Barbarians to close their season.
In the end, Triton got the nod to make the grand final on the back of being on the receiving end of a forfeit during the season and courtesy of a better goal difference than Phantoms.
The Barbarians were the only team heading into the last round who were unable to qualify for the grand final but they had still been vastly competitive.
All things considered, the Challenge Cup proved a tremendous idea to give those non-national league players from Melville and UWA City Beach the chance to continue playing after the Premier League wrapped up in early December with UWA City Beach defeating Melville in the grand final.
The last round of the Challenge Cup season for 2017 began at Claremont Pool on Saturday with Dolphins taking on Triton.
It was Dolphins who scored first after just over a minute thanks to James Beare. Triton soon responded courtesy of Lewis Putt before they moved ahead to lead 2-1 when Kalani Ireland found the back of the net.
But Dolphins drew level with two minutes left in the opening quarter when Beare scored once more. However, Triton had the answers again a minute later when Bruno Barna scored to give his team the 3-2 lead at quarter-time.
They then went 7-2 after less than five minutes of the second term with two goals firstly to Putt before Barna added another and Jack Perry his first before Dolphins pulled one back from Lachlan Mackenzie just before half-time.
But Triton knew what was at stake and came out firing again to start the second with quick goals to Tom McKinnon and Ireland.
Triton were still in control leading 10-4 at three quarter-time and despite three quick goals for Dolphins to open the last term through Tim Bailey, Peter Gaunt and Luke Swanson, Triton steadied with the last two goals of the game to Ireland and Max Contessi to end up winning 12-7.
Putt finished with four goals for Triton, Ireland three and Barna two. Beare scored twice for Dolphins.
Putt also received the three votes after the game, Ireland the two and goalkeeper Damian Williams the one.
That meant the grand final was decided for 2017 but Phantoms and Barbarians still came out and put on a good show to close out their seasons.
Phantoms scored first late in the first quarter thanks to Scott Chrystal before the Barbarians responded through Tibor Seress. But Phantoms led 2-1 at quarter-time following a goal to Richard O’Halloran.
Phantoms soon led 4-1 following goals to Nick O’Halloran and Richard O’Halloran to start the second period before Barbarians answered thanks to Andras Jo-Kovacs.
Both teams added another goal each before half-time with Phantoms leading 5-3 which became 6-3 early in the third term after a penalty conversion made by Richard O’Halloran.
Barbarians weren’t going away, though, and finished the third quarter with goals to Seress and Jo-Kovacs to cut Phantoms lead to 6-5.
But Phantoms responded with the opening two goals of the final quarter through Kieran Bayles and Richard O’Halloran before ending up winning 8-7.
Richard O’Halloran scored four goals for Phantoms and Nick O’Halloran three. Seress scored three times for Barbarians as did Jo-Kovacs.
Nick O’Halloran received the three votes afterwards, Jo-Kovacs the two and Seress the one.
The Challenge Cup grand final for 2017 will now take place this Saturday at HBF Stadium at 2.30pm between the Pressed Earth Dolphins and Triton.
ROUND 9 MEN’S CHALLENGE CUP RESULTS
Pressed Earth Dolphins 7 lost to Triton 12 at Claremont Pool
Barbarians 7 lost to Phantoms 8 at Claremont Pool