SOUTHERN UNITED

Southern United takes classic prelim

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Southern United celebrates the end of the penalty shoot out.

SOUTHERN United is through to the men’s Premier League grand final after defeating Powerhouse St Kilda in a gripping preliminary final on Saturday.

The women’s Premier went close to achieving the same result, but just went down to the older and more experienced Hawthorn team.

The men’s preliminary final had it all, a 6pm game on a night that included wind, rain and hail.

Powerhouse scored the first goal with a penalty corner flick from Adam Seccull, but Southern replied quickly with a team goal between Nathan Eprhaums and 16-year-old Craig Marais to even the scores for half time.

The second half was best described by Ross Walker, son of life member Ken, and the father of 17-year-old player Carlin.

“I think the last hour of Saturday’s game was possibly the most excited and emotional I’ve ever felt at a Southern game of any type in the 37 years I’ve been at the club,’’ he said.

Southern was first to score in the second half with brothers Joshua and Nathan Ephraums teaming up for a goal from Nathan from the baseline.

Powerhouse responded with another penalty corner goal from Seccull, the tension at the State Netball and Hockey centre only intensifying.

A goal fest followed with Southern’s Matt l’Hullier scoring a penalty corner. An immediate goal to Powerhouse followed. With four minutes to go Powerhouse scored from a hit outside the D with a neat deflection and Southern United was down 3-4.

Craig Marais scored his second goal for the game bringing the score to 4-4 with 3:45 to go.

Then came a penalty shoot out, where a single attacker has eight seconds from the 25 yard line to get the ball past the goal keeper to score.

After five from each team, the score was level at four apiece, moving to sudden death.

Waseem Ahmed was the first in sudden death for Southern. Showing the composure you would expect from someone with more than 400 games for Pakistan, he made it look easy.

Powerhouse responded with a goal. From the older to the younger, Nathan Ephraums, 20, who started for Southern at the age of six, followed, also making it look easy.

Ed Arnold, the United goalkeeper with all the pressure on his shoulders, held strong, forcing an error on Powerhouse and taking Southern to the grand final.

The stands at the State Netball and Hockey Centre will turn black and red on Saturday at 6pm with the colours of Southern United.

— Anna Jennings