It had been a long week waiting but finally the day had arrived for the St Bedes Mentone/Tigers Under 14's to play in their Grand Final vs Beaumaris at Le Page oval in Cheltenham in unsettling and blustery conditions. There had been nothing between the two teams all season with our boys holding a 3-0 win ratio against the Sharks throughout the season as the winning margins had been close between the teams all season as both matched up evenly.
With the formalities of the National Anthem completed our boys took their positions to commence their Grand Final with the umpire holding the ball aloft and Brian Taylor the ground Commentator calling the action the Grand Final was underway. Both teams started with ferocity at the ball which set the scene for the game as Beaumaris kicked the 1st goal of game into the wind but was quickly followed by a great goal from our returning Full forward Max Sullivan. The quarter went goal for goal as both teams took their chances under immense pressure to go into quarter time SBMT 3.2.20 to Beaumaris 3.0.18.
Unfortunately the second quarter our boys dropped their intensity and allowed Beaumaris to get on top kicking 4 goals to 1 and set up a handy lead of 16 points at the main break with the scores 4.4.28 to 7.2.44. After settling the boys at half time and explaining that we had been in this position before and that we still had 40 minutes of football to work our way back into the game like we had done 2 weeks earlier in the Semi Final and to play the type of football we had done through the season we can turn this around with the key being the tackling intensity needed to lift.
Whether it was the rain at the half time break but Brian Taylor was not to be seen or heard in the second half which may have taken the distraction away as our boys started to work their way back into the game and had a devastating 3rd quarter led brilliantly by Ollie Z & Connor in the ruck and Rocco starting the get our his hands on the ball the boys took their chances and hit up target with great ball use and decision making as Max kicked a further 2 and Trent snapping 2 great goals it was the drive from the midfielders who allowed the game to be played in our forward half as we kicked 6.0 to 1.0 in the 3rd quarter to turn a 16 point deficit into a 14 point lead with the scores 10.4.64 to 8.2.50.
The excitement and enthusiasm was high with fantastic support from friends and family at the 3/4 time huddle as we continually spoke about the requirement to not let the hard work of the 3rd quarter go to waste as we needed to bring the tackling pressure and that we needed to have composure as Beaumaris were kicking with a 3 to 4 goal breeze and had to be smart when in position coming out of defence and to put pressure on every Beaumaris player when in possession as they could rush their kicks trying to score.
The noise from the large crowd was electric with both teams looking to score the 1st goal to try and gain some ascendancy and momentum. Beaumaris struck the 1st blow kicking the 1st 2 goals of the quarter to get back within 2 points and continually peppered the goals putting our defenders under immense pressure as we tried to clear the ball.
Finally we broke through the hard press with Gavin kicking a goal to give us some breathing space with 10 minutes to go. Beaumaris were not finished though as they kicked a string of 5 behinds in a row. We needed numbers back to help and moved Max Sullivan back after his efforts of kicking 4 goals to help as an extra number deep in defence as the spare which worked perfectly as we were able to steady. Beaumaris kicked another 3 behinds to only be 1 point behind before we managed to get the ball out of our defence and Gavin took a good mark on the half forward flank to drive the ball forward to a loose Thomas O'Hara deep in our forward line who kicked it through the big sticks.
Breathing space with 4 minutes to go and 7 point lead. Beaumaris had two more shots on goal to again miss and register only behinds (2.9 for the quarter). Five points up with 1.30 left on the clock. A loose ball on the half back flank allowed a quick forward and into the hands of Rocco who took off along the wing like a race horse... 3 bounces later he kicked it forward to a two vs one in our forward fifty in our favour where Gavin took a strong mark and handballed over the top to Thomas O'Hara who kicked a goal in the square.
With the boys waving their arms to get numbers back into their defence the coaches and SBMT family and friends counted down the clock as the boys hung onto an amazing 11 point win.
Scenes of elation followed as supporters ran onto the ground as the smiles on the boys faces were priceless who had worked so hard to get themselves back into the game and to win a Premiership. An absolute great game of junior football to be involved in over 80 minutes was played
As our Captain Jake Ryder & Coach Tighe Chandler held the Premiership Cup aloft as the boys now became mates for life and were able to celebrate together with their 27 team mates who all played their roles on the day and should be so proud of their efforts not only today but throughout the season.
#ONE TEAM Go Tigers!!
St Bedes/Mentone Tigers Under 15 player Angie Andunga has become our first female selected to represent Victoria in the AFL Under 16 Girls All Nations Interstate Championships 26 - 29 September in Shepparton. Over the past two months, girls in this age bracket who were born overseas were invited to training at several sites around Melbourne then trials at Punt Road Oval and a two day hit out in Healesville.