MATCH REVIEW: Premier Division Reserves Grand Final
Written by Michael Shillito
Pennant Hills Demons vs. St George – Blacktown ISP on Saturday 14th September
There’s always plenty of passion in the contest when Pennant Hills and St George match up, especially when there’s a premiership cup on the line. And so the Premier Reserves Grand Final was one to look forward to; a lunchtime encounter that would feature many familiar names in Sydney footy.
Both clubs have had considerable success in getting players who are no longer playing Premier Division to stick around at the club; and there was no shortage of decorated players taking part in this encounter. Providing not just on-field leadership that propelled their reserves teams to Grand Finals, but also off-field leadership for the emerging players who have made it into Senior footy.
Pennant Hills went into the contest as favourites, having finished minor premiers and only being required to play one final. The Dragons had to go through three sudden-death finals to get to the big game; but they managed to get it done. This was going to be a contest to look forward to.
There was nothing in it in the first quarter. Both teams took their best game into the clash, and took their time to feel each other out and look for the pivotal opening. It was goal for goal, mark for mark, contest for contest. Two goals apiece were scored in the first term, with no clear leader emerging but plenty of quality moves around the ground. This was shaping as a keen contest, and the Demons took a one-point lead into the quarter time break.
It took just two minutes for the Dragons to take the lead, and they were on a roll. The St George team emerged from the quarter time huddle with a spring in their step, and lifted around the ground to establish a decisive edge over the Demons. Now they were finding room to move, and forward targets began to present themselves as the Dragons got out to a two-goal lead.
But there was to be another twist in this tale, as from nowhere the Demons found a rallying revival and quickly restored their quarter time advantage. An entertaining contest was developing, the pendulum swinging as fortunes fluctuated. And the game swung again, the Dragons adding two major scores in time-on to take an 11-point lead into half time.
The Dragons were kicking to the Eastern Road end in the third term, and a growing number of the red and white faithful had moved to that end as the second half got under way. And they liked what they were seeing, as the Dragons were on the board in the opening minute of the third term and again a few minutes later. A lead of 23 points was going to be hard for the Demons to recover from.
The Demons got one back, but the premiership quarter belonged to the Dragons. As their third goal for the quarter sailed through the big sticks, the sense of anticipation from the Dragons was growing. Their move late in the second had set them up, but in this third quarter the early onslaught by the Dragons was the critical move. The scent of victory was in their nostrils, and there would be no way back for the Demons.
The last quarter saw the Dragons add one more goal; but for much of the quarter the Dragons were happy to savour the moment and enjoy the thrill of a safely won flag. When the clock finally counted down, the celebrations were on. The premiership was red and white, and the Dragon faithful were revelling in the moment.
Heartache for the Demons. They had been the best team in this division all season, only to be denied at the last hurdle. They had fought hard all day; and their efforts in 2019 can’t be faulted. But in the end, the dream of taking the premiership flag to Mike Kenny Oval was not to be. Lloyd Shepherd, Maine Vidler and Charles Allison had been tireless warriors; but in the end, they would be denied.
Instead, it was the Dragons who had emerged with the spoils. Timing their run perfectly, they hit their best football at the right time of year and made it through three sudden death finals and then lifted another gear to deliver on the day that mattered. Nick Ryan, Jack Guthrie and Tim Coenen had led the way; but there were many Dragons who followed and played their role in making the success happen.
And another season of great Reserves footy had come to an end. Triumph for the Dragons, who stepped up against the odds and got the job done.
St George Dragons – 2.1 | 6.5 | 9.5 | 10.7 (67)
Pennant Hills Demons – 2.2 | 4.6 | 5.7 | 5.9 (39)
St George – D. Napper 3, N. Ryan 2, D. Sanderson 2, S. Wilsen, M. Watson, D. Donohue
Pennant Hills – A. Brawn, D. Dell’Aquila, M. Preen, C. Furlong, N. Mace
St George – N. Ryan, J. Guthre, T. Coenen, M. Crossan, A. Fanous, M. Watson
Pennant Hills – L. Shepherd, M. Vidler, C. Allison, N. Mace, J. Le Lay, M. Browne