St Mary’s 11.7 (73) won its first senior premiership with a 13-point win over a determined Panton Hill 8.12 (60) in the Northern Football Netball League (NFNL) Division 3 Grand Final at Whittlesea Showgrounds.
The win was sealed late in the game when Nic Daisley stuck a great tackle, won the free and duly converted from 25 metres out.
The siren in the 11.7 (73) to 8.12 (60) win signalled the culmination of ten years of hard work by the club.
St Mary’s coach Fabian Carelli praised his team’s application during his post-match address.
“Every time I challenged you, you responded”, he said.
St Mary’s lost only one game for the season – way back in Round 5 against grand final opponent Panton Hill.
Despite dominating early, the Burra was unable to find the major opening and the Redbacks took control of the game midway through the first term – kicking the only two goals of the quarter.
The first was one for the highlights reel – with Alex Tsardakis kicking the ball over his head for the major.
St Mary’s has been outstanding in second terms throughout the year and the grand final was no exception.
Chris Petroro kick-started their charge when he ran into the goal square for their first goal. Then he set up multiple scoring opportunities with his precise disposal as the Burra booted four in a row.
Against the run of play, Jonty Rushton kicked a great goal for Panton Hill from a pack. A minute later, Rhys Boyden’s bullocking work forced the ball forward where Rushton won a free for a superb tackle.
With the aid of a 50 metre penalty, he booted a goal from the line to reduce the deficit to a solitary behind. A late goal to Daniel Dober gave St Mary’s an eight-point lead at the main break.
The Burra looked to take a strangle-hold on the game with the first two goals after half time. Jacob Yeomans was looking dangerous and kicked his third just two minutes into the term.
Then a great kick from Jake Dambrauskas saw Nick Dean mark on the line to give St Mary’s a game high 19-point lead.
Panton Hill fought back to reduce the deficit at the last break to a manageable nine points.
At the break, St Mary’s Carelli told his players to hit the 45s and also run and carry. Then he urged the group to create history for the club.
They held the Redbacks at arm’s length for most of the final term, but Panton Hill’s Alex Tsardakis threatened to spoil the party.
He marked cleverly to goal, then kicked his fourth goal – a wonderful snap under pressure at the 22-minute mark put his team within eight points. However, it wasn’t quite enough.
“Couldn’t be prouder of the way the boys went about it”, said Panton Hill coach Steve Layt.
Layt was pleased with defenders Brent Ryan and Mitch Anderson – who took numerous intercept marks and then used the ball well by foot.
Myles Guldon was named best player on the ground by the umpires. He took some strong contested marks late in the game and booted a crucial fourth quarter goal.
Captain Dillan Ronalds led well from the front all day. Down back, 2015 Reservoir premiership player Leigh Sullivan performed to a high level and added a second premiership medallion to his collection.
Ben Mossuto and Mitch Hocking were busy through the midfield, while Nick Dean kicked two goals and had a hand in a few others.
St Mary’s now progresses to NFNL Division 2 in 2019. The Redbacks stay in third, but look to be a force to be reckoned with next season.
ST MARY’S : 0.2 (2) 5.5 (35) 8.6 (54) 11.7 (73)
GOALS: J. Yeomans 3, N. Dean 2, B. Mossuto, L. Potter, C. Petroro, N. Daisley, D. Dober, M. Guldon.
BEST: J. Bergman, D. Ronalds, J. Todd, L. Sullivan, M. Hocking, B. Mossuto.
PANTON HILL: 2.2 (14) 4.3 (27) 6.9 (45) 8.12 (60)
GOALS: A. Tsardakis 4, J. Rushton 2, R. Boyden, D. Haynes.
BEST: A. Tsardakis, B. Ryan, D. Freeman, M. Anderson, M. Fowler, J. Rushton.