Millewa Football League
Grand Final Review
Bambill Go Back To Back
Bambill broke the defensive trend of the game in the second half to run out 49 point winners over Werrimull and claim back to back Millewa Football premierships.
Under clear blue skies and a large crowd of over 1200 in perfect conditions at Lake Cullulleraine the game started very tightly and contested with Bambill having much of the play in their forward half and Werrimull defending well but struggling to get the ball forward. Key Bambill forward Luke Stanbrook booted the game’s first major after 5 minutes after a scrappy contest about 25m out. Luke McClelland goaled soon after to increase the lead before Werrimull entered their forward 50 for the first time, resulting only in a behind. Werrimull continued to struggle for forward 50 presence, but their defending at the other end of the ground with relentless tackling was keeping the Saints in check.
Bambill continued to apply scoreboard pressure when Chris Sellens goaled to open up an 18 point lead halfway through the first term. Werrimull eventually registered their first major through Ben Ransome and this seemed to steady the side as a whole. Another forward entry and clearance from Jay Savage resulted in goal to Magpie skipper Cam Williams which bought the margin back to a goal. Both sides continued to apply pressure with neither side able to advance deep inside their forward 50 with excellent defence on display. The Magpies struck trouble when Xavier Smith injured a shoulder in a contest and the resultant goal to Bambill’s Luke Hubble saw the saints skip back out to a two goal lead late in the quarter and keep that margin at the first change.
The relentless pressure continued at the start of the second quarter, with Werrimull applying great forward pressure to keep the ball inside their attacking half for the first few minutes of the quarter. The Magpies though could not get results on the scoreboard for all their efforts. Bambill got forward finally but an Andy Davis running shot from outside 50 was marked on the goalline, and subsequent repeat entries could only result in one solitary behind. The resulting kick in went the length of the ground for Werrimull and was finished on the run by Mark Thomson to cut the margin back to a goal.
Neither side could gain the upper hand as the quarter approached the half way mark, with thight, contested footy the brand being played. Both defences were continued to stand strong, spoiling marking efforts by both forward lines and rebounding well from intercept marks. Bambill finally had a scoring opportunity through Hubble marking deep in the pocket, but a minor score had the margin at a goal. Neither side could get a clear entry until Jamie Roberts marked on his chest but failed to convert. A free kick in the forward pocket to Werrimull Coach Shannon Anthony was converted which saw his side level the contest. The Saints responded quickly, with a centre clearance going to Luke Stanbrook who goaled to give his side back the lead. Werrimull went back inside attacking 50 late in the quarter and a mark to Anthony resulted in the coach’s second goal to again level the scores. As the clock ran down, a Bambill behind was followed by Adam Wiseman marking on the angle with his shot after the siren hitting the post and sending the contest to half time all square.
When play resumed after the break the game trend continued with hard, contested and defensive football being played by both sides. With many stoppages, both boundary and around the ground, the game was beginning to turn into an arm wrestle with neither side able to ascend to any advantage. Bambill had consecutive shots through Jake Garraway and Luke McClelland, with both yielding no result and ending up out on the full. Stanbrook marked at half forward, but his shot too hit the behind post on the full. Brad Thomas appeared headed for a running goal for Bambill until a great defensive tackle stopped him in his tracks. Bambill finally capitalised with Garraway getting the ball from a stoppage and goaling to put the lead to 7 points. Two consecutive goals to Thomas, the second after a high marking attempt, extended the margin to 19 points as the Saints looked like they were taking hold of the game.
Werrimull responded, with Thomson delivering the ball to Roberts, but the Magpie forward was just beyond range with the shot resulting in a behind. The ball went the length of the ground and it was Thomas who marked again. The small forward though failed to convert with the margin staying at 19 points half way through the term. Bambill were getting better delivery to their forwards and Stanbrook’s third goal extended the Saints margin to 25 points. Bambill were applying great defensive pressure with repeat entries resulting in the Werrimull defenders being placed under more pressure. Werrimull struggled to get the ball forward but moved it slowly through uncontested marks, which allowed Bambill time to get back and defend in numbers. Still the Magpies worked the ball forward, but with the final kick often being a long high kick into the forwards, Bambill were able to bring the ball to ground or intercept mark. Late in the quarter after Werrimull had most of the play and some behinds had bought the margin to 26 points, Williams goaled to lift his sides hopes of closing the margin before the last change. Bambill responded, with a quick snap from Luke McClelland again extending the margin again to see the Saints 26 points in front at the three quarter time break.
Werrimull needed the first of the last quarter but after 5 minutes of contested play, it was Hubble who goaled for the Saints to extend the margin beyond 5 goals. A long goal from Michael Hickey saw the lead stretch close to 40 points and it appeared the game had slipped away from the Magpies. Jamie Keenan marked and goaled to give Werrimull some hope, before a late hit by Sam Doering on Roberts saw the Werrimull forward goal from the square after a 50m penalty to cut 27 points. Bambill cleared the ball from the centre and Andy Davis was on the end of a chain of handballs and produced a long running goal to again extend his sides margin. Werrimull continued to struggle to move the ball forward, often kicking long to contests inside their forward 50. A free kick to Roberts resulted in a behind with 8 minutes remaining and appeared to be the end of Werrimull’s victory hopes.
Still Werrimull tried hard, but their scoring opportunities resulted in consecutive behinds. Keenan marked with the chance to cut the margin to under four goals, but he too missed. Bambill looked like they were in control, still running and spreading the field, and kicking to uncontested marks. They moved the ball forward though Stanbrook to Hubble who converted to ice the game with 5 minutes remaining. Hubble and Thomas both kicked their third goals late in the quarter to extend the margin at the final siren to 49 points.
Gallant in defeat, Werrimull coach Shannon Anthony congratulated the winners, but had praise for his gallant side and the effort they had shown throughout the season, and in particular the last month of football. For the Saints, it was a day to savour, with co-captain Luke Stanbrook claiming a second successive AFL Victoria Country Medal for his best on ground performance. For coach Darren Atkinson the success bought the relief of guiding the reigning premier to back to back titles and potentially finishing his senior coaching career on a high.
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