Macleod booked the first ticket into the 2017 Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 grand final with a scorching 106-point win over a lifeless Northcote Park in the second semi final.
Adding to their previous 75 and 84-point thrashings over the Cougars this season, the Kangas made an emphatic statement in the 23.15 (153) to 6.11 (47) result at Preston City Oval.
Macleod had winners all over the ground and was much cleaner and direct by foot.
Reid Brandt was unstoppable in the forward half, booting eight goals among more than a dozen chances, while Patrick Martin, Lucas Hobbs, Shane and Anthony Doherty all kicked multiple goals for the minor premier.
Co-captains Hamish Paynter and Justin White were prolific ball winners, while Jack Langford’s pinch-hitting ruck work and capacity to cover the field was valuable. Rebounding defenders Ned McKeown and Laurence Schubert also had a big say in the game.
Although soundly beaten, Jordan Perry, Joel Donaldson and Paul Dirago battled away in the middle, while Ash Close took plenty of marks around the ground.
Defenders Jake Mills and Lachlan Boscarini were the Cougars’ most resolute defenders and at times stood up against the wave of Macleod’s pressure.
Skill errors cost Northcote Park dearly, turning the ball over regularly and succumbing to the Roos’ intense pressure around the ground.
The Kangas continuously found holes in the Cougars defence with Reid Brandt, Anthony Doherty and Nick Lynch finding uncontested marks in the forward 50.
White began the onslaught at the six-minute mark of the first quarter with a long-range goal for Macleod.
Brandt was everywhere in the first term and converted two set shots, while he also hit the post twice.
Macleod’s hard work in the first term was capped off when Schubert waltzed into the forward line and snapped a goal to take a 31-point lead into quarter time.
Northcote Park was able to spread the ball with much more purpose in the second term, despite giving up the first two goals of the quarter.
Ash Close had three of the first five scoring shots, with his chance at the eight-minute mark proving to be the Cougars’ first major of the day.
But Macleod was never truly tested, going on to kick five goals to one for the term to take a commanding 56-point lead into the main break, with the only dampener a knee injury to Josh Totino.
With a spot in the grand final for the third-successive year already looking secured, Macleod put the Cougars to the sword in the third term. Brandt’s fourth goal in the opening 20 seconds was the first of seven for the Roos.
Hobbs, Martin and Brandt continued to dominate and combined for another four goals before Northcote Park livewire Ricky Fandrich made an exciting run along the boundary. He centred the ball to Dylan Campbell who kicked truly to give Cougars fans something to cheer about.
But the glimmer of excitement was short-lived, with a Hamish Paynter clearance from the resulting centre bounce heading Nick Lynch’s way, who instantly replied.
The Roos had a 95-point lead at the last change of ends and it took them just three minutes to extend the advantage to three digits when Shane Doherty was awarded a free kick in the goal square.
The minor premier continued the onslaught and established itself as the team to beat in this year’s grand final, earning a week’s rest for the second year in a row heading into the decider.
Northcote Park will face the winner of the first semi final in next Sunday’s preliminary final.
Final score: Macleod 23.15 (153) def Northcote Park 6.11 (47)