Banyule claimed the 2017 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 premiership with a 25-point win over South Morang in the grand final.
The Bears backed up their impressive second semi final win to claim the flag with a 13.17 (95) to 10.10 (70) triumph in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
In perfect conditions the Bears first found the lead late in the first term and never relinquished it thereafter.
Leading by 22 points at the main break, Riley Keath intercepted an errant switch of play by a Lions player early in the third term to boot a vital goal. His teammates immediately mobbed him – as though he had kicked the sealer.
But from that moment on, the Lions dug deep. They booted four of the next five goals to trail by just nine points early in the last stanza.
Banyule was able to get the game back to an arm wrestle in the next few minutes, but the pressure of the occasion seemed to get to the Bears – when several chances to boot a major went begging.
Then a double 50m penalty took tireless worker Devin McDonald – one of the best for Banyule – to the goal line. McDonald’s goal put the Bears 17 points up. His teammates noticeably felt the pressure released.
Soon after, best-on-ground Scott Gumbleton took a contested mark at close range. Another 50m penalty took him to the line and the game was over. It was a fitting finale for Gumbleton – who missed the entire 2016 season. His ruckwork and intercept marking were exemplary.
“The focus during the week was to have 22 blokes play their role,” Banyule coach Pete Davey said after the game. “And everyone did.” This was borne out by the victors having a much even spread of contributors, with the goals shared around again.
Michael Italia had four at half time and missed his chance to add to his tally late in the contest. James Kroussoratis – well held by Jake Potter – kicked two and played further afield at times.
McDonald and Gumbleton scored two apiece – as did Riley Keath. A plethora of midfielders – such as Kieran Malone and Daniel Kelly – won the inside ball for the Bears, while their work on the spread was also high class – thanks to Jacob Smith and Matthew Yarwood.
Adam Barclay again played in defence on Anthony Capeci. Capeci booted two majors, but Barclay was crucial in ground ball wins late in the contest. Adam Fulton led a miserly defence.
South Morang could have been closer, but some poor discipline late cost it dearly. They also made some errors deep in defence when giving too much “hang time” – resulting in multiples opposition shots at goal.
Their inclusions on the day – Tye Hall, Raafat Rachrache and Mitchell Dickson – all appeared to be below 100% after returning from injury.
Daniel Caruso was back to his best and his work around midfield kept his team in with a sniff. Ben Power was solid in defence, alongside Potter, while Jordan Steele excelled.
But the surprise packet was Nathan Tassell. Playing on the wing and drifting forward, he booted a goal and South Morang always looked dangerous when he had the ball in hand.
“There is a bright future ahead of us,” South Morang coach Gary Hall said after the game.
Things didn’t quite go his way in the latter part of the season, but they look set to be a major player in 2018.
Final scores: Banyule 13.17 (95) def South Morang 10.10 (70)