Division 1 Grand Final Day Match Wrap-Ups
By Ben Pollard
DIVISION 1 SENIORS GRAND FINAL
EAST BRIGHTON 9.8 (62) def CHELSEA HEIGHTS 8.9 (57)
Jim Meneilly Medallist: Peter Larsen (East Brighton)
As always in grand finals, there is sheer agony and pure ecstasy. In a thrilling Division 1 Seniors grand final, the agony was seen in the Chelsea Heights boys who led for much of the day but were swamped in the second half. The ecstasy was all East Brighton’s, the Vampires finally claiming a flag after last year’s shattering grand final loss to St Pauls. In such an even season of Southern Footy, it was only fitting this one went right down to the wire...
The sun was out, but the wind was blustery at Clayton’s Meade Reserve on Sunday and it took both teams a while to settle into the difficult kicking conditions. Brad Gilder looked dangerous on the lead early, kicking Chelsea’s first goal from a set shot. Toby Mahoney answered for the Vampires, but Gilder soon struck another blow following a costly free kick against Levi Hancock. Ash Roberts was a wall at half-back for the Heighters, rebounding everything. The Chelsea co-coach started a run of play that set up a Joel Dalton goal and put his team 11 points up at the first break.
East Brighton looked genuinely shellshocked when the lively Jordan Peryman slotted a miraculous set shot goal from the forward pocket boundary early in the second term. Some Vampires may have been having flashbacks to the disaster of 2011, but not Peter Larsen. If Roberts was sending the ball into Chelsea’s forward half, it was generally Larsen sending it straight back. His quality rebounding started to show on the scoreboard, as goals to Justin Whyte and Matt Jamieson put the Vampires within four points. The Heighters were starting to butcher their entries into the 50, but big Phil Smith kept feeding his midfielders by dominating ruck contests all over the ground. When Smith himself converted from a set shot just before halftime, Chelsea’s lead was out to nine points.
In the premiership quarter, you expected to see East Brighton’s fresh legs start to run over the Heighters, who had played each week of the finals. Indeed, several Vampires started to lift their games. Matt O’Rourke’s superb rebound from defence set up two goals from the busy Dean Williamson, putting East Brighton in front for the first time since the opening minutes. But just when Chelsea looked flat, they too lifted. Dean Francis, who struggled to get on top of Rhett Moor all day, dropped a sitter and before you knew it, Travis Johnstone’s calm passing in traffic had set up another Phil Smith grab and goal. Toby Mahoney kicked his second from a free kick to retake the lead for the Vampires, but Smith the colossus stamped himself on the game again. His third put the Heighters five points up nearing the final break before Chelsea’s Phil Matheson missed a tough set shot after the three-quarter time siren. We would soon find out whether that miss would prove costly...
The run of East Brighton came to the fore in a withering burst early in the last quarter. The Heighters looked rattled as fumble after fumble threatened to bring them undone. The speedy Ryan Emmett was the first to capitalise on a Chelsea mistake, bringing the Vampires level again. Matt Jamieson was in the process of capping off a fairytale return year at the club, coolly slotting two huge goals to put East Brighton 14 points clear, but somehow, the Heighters weren’t done with. Chelsea started to get on top at crucial stoppages in their forward line, but their hurried shots at goal only produced a few behinds. With not long to go, Phil Matheson finally split the big sticks to bring his team to within five points and the stage was set for an epic finish. Repeated forward thrusts by the Heighters in the dying minutes were repelled by the staunch Vampire defence and when the final siren blew, the ball was again bobbling dangerously inside Chelsea’s 50. The Heighters slumped to the ground, heartbroken, as East Brighton players, coaches and supporters rushed to join wild celebrations on the ground. Redemption had been achieved.
DIVISION 1 RESERVES GRAND FINAL
ST PAULS 12.10 (82) def DINGLEY 6.12 (48)
Dennis Malcolm Medallist: Ben Pian (St Pauls)
St Pauls knocked off top-placed Dingley for the second time in the finals to secure the Division 1 Reserves flag on Sunday. The Dingoes started well, with Sam Williams converting after a huge speccie in front of goal. The physical presence of Dingley big man Clinton Brooks was proving a handful for the Doggies, but the classy running of Jarryd Blenkinsop ensured St Pauls took an 11-point lead to the first break.
Dingley turned up the ferocity in the second stanza, two quick clearance goals putting the Dingoes back in front. The Doggies looked dangerous when they got it forward though, with Tim East threatening at every opportunity. With hard-nosed veteran Robert Prew putting his stamp on the game, St Pauls quickly broke away from the halftime deadlock. Four goals to two in the third quarter and plenty of Dingley missed opportunities put the Doggies in the box seat for glory.
It was elementary from there, St Pauls’ pressure forcing the Dingoes to defend grimly throughout the last quarter. Jack Hayes sealed the win with some brilliant work inside 50 and Ben Pian was rewarded for a colossal performance in the ruck with the Dennis Malcolm Medal. How about the depth of talent at this great club?!
COLTS GRAND FINAL
BENTLEIGH 11.5 (71) def MURRUMBEENA 8.7 (55)
Barnes Medallist: Mitchell Backman
Bentleigh was rewarded for dominating the Colts competition in 2012 by taking home the flag in a hard-fought grand final against Murrumbeena on Sunday morning. Bentleigh shot out of the blocks in the first half, showing the benefit of the week off earned in their semi-final victory over St Peters.
Murrumbeena faced a tough task to overcome a four-goal halftime deficit, but with clean disposal into their forward 50, they hit enough targets to claw the margin back to a goal at three-quarter time. The favourites stepped up a gear in the final term though. Bentleigh lifted their intensity around the ball, winning contests and kicking it long to their marking targets inside 50. After snagging the first two goals of the quarter, it was Bentleigh’s flag for the taking.
Brody Lawford (three goals), Liam Dimattina (three) and Hudson Thomas (two) were all influential up forward, while Mitchell Backman won the Barnes Medal for his consistent toughness at the coalface.