Two hands does best

CHFL review – GrandFinal Tigers roar is too strong for the Eagles.

In front of a crowd of more than 4000 people at Eureka Stadium Springbank was able to achieve its first Central Highlands FL senior premiership in 14 years with a strong performance throughout the match. Paul McMahon the key mobile tall forward was able to play which provided just the balance the Tigers needed and they started with the confidence of a team which knew what it was like at this level from the experiences of last year and bounced away with the initial two goals of the game. Springbank looked to be the more assured throughout this first quarter with more options around the ball whenever they gained possession and a more assured approach into the forward line.

Panic station as Joel Maher kicks the ball towards goal.
Panic station as Joel Maher kicks the ball towards goal.

Gordon on the other hand were struggling to settle into the occasion and their trademark run and carry though the lines just wasn’t present, largely due to skill errors which didn’t allow them to create pressure on the Springbank defence. In general play Springbank looked to be in full control but thanks to a couple of late goals Gordon trailed by just five points. It was a struggle for both teams during the second quarter with Gordon held goal less and kicking just three behinds but Springbank only added a single goal to their tally. The game was not living up to the standard which had been demonstrated by both clubs throughout the finals. There were many skill errors; however some of this was as a result which of the pressure each side was putting on the opposition whenever they had possession. The major difference appeared to be that Springbank could keep this clamp on Gordon more effectively across the whole ground, whereas Springbank through Joel Maher, Bill Driscoll, James Millikan and Tim Malone were able to find more room to move in through the midfield. However for all of their mistakes and frustration Gordon was still within eight points at the main break.

To get back into the game their major goal kickers Steve Nicholson and Mick Nolan needed to get into the game.

However the pattern of the first half in the Gordon forward line continued in the third quarter with Nicholson and Nolan being forced very high up the ground to gain possessions. Samuel Cue, Michael Searl, Chris Quinlan and Simon Quinlan were marshalling the defences excellently. Hamish Watts went forward for a short period and took a couple of marks for Gordon but the defence quickly readjusted and he was shut out of the game also.

Springbank then started to find a bit more potency in their forward line and added four for the term to really stretch their lead. In a low scoring game the 21 point break at three quarter time was appearing to be close to a match winning advantage.

Mark Gunnell had been shifted back to half back to try to curb the threat of McMahon who whilst held goalless for the match always attracted plenty of attention and remained the main avenue of attack for Springbank.

Gerard Clifford and Brad Hallam both completed excellent final series in the back line for Gordon but as compared to the previous week against Ballan nether was able to push very far forward to give the run off half back which was required.

This was compounded through the mid field also finding that they were not able to gain the meters they needed to hurt Springbank. The final quarter proved to be a repeat of the second with Springbank able to find a couple of goals and have last few minutes with a comfortable lead enabling them to enjoy the felling of the pending final siren. Joel Maher had a superb final series for Springbank and deserved to be named best on ground and winner of the AFL Victoria Country medal.

Terry Simpson as coach also completed an excellent final series using his forces and the unique abilities of each expertly across all three matches.

His timing of changes and ability to change the set up opposition players and coaches were facing continued to stretch opposition. After a lean run over the past fifteen years including years where they won only one or two matches Springbank are now enjoying the satisfaction of another senior premiership. It was a day made doubly satisfying with the one point win in the A Grade netball over Learmonth. Beaufort reserves broke an even great drought winning the clubs first reserves grade premiership in fifty years. In a tight match they were able to break clear of a determined Buninyong in the final minutes. The Under 18 grand final was a high standard affair however the favoured side, undefeated Hepburn fell at the final hurdle to become premiers and champions. Bungaree were well clear at three quarter time but stopped running but with a five goal final term Hepburn almost stole the match out of the hands of the Demons. It was a well-deserved three point win to Bungaree. Unfortunately for the Burras this was their second defeat of the day, with the under 15 team also losing in their quest to achieve premiers and champions honours. Creswick withstood a final quarter three goal surge by Hepburn with three goals of their own to end up 16 point winners.

With four different clubs winning premierships there were many who went away pleased with their efforts, just as there were many who wished they had been able to do that little bit more, but that is what happens with grand finals.