Grand Final Review – Platinum Division Reserves
Written by Michael Shillito
The sun was shining but a strong cross-ground wind was blowing for the Platinum Reserves Grand Final, a clash that saw Macquarie Uni Warriors up against Southern Power. There didn’t look to be much between the two teams on form going into the Grand Final, and it would be a cliff-hanger.
The two teams were first and second respectively after the regular season, each dropping two games but the Warriors claimed the minor premiership on match ratio. But there was no doubt of the Warriors’ form and momentum when they recorded a convincing 123-point win over Penrith in the Semi Final. The Power also comfortably made it to the big game with a 48-point win over the Goannas in the other Semi Final.
It was the Power who made the early front-running, with James Pardy snapping truly with the game just seconds old. Tom Jackson faced minimal resistance to mark and kick their second. And the third came moments later, when Harry Tattersall used his size and strength to shake off a tackle and steer the ball through the big sticks.
Joe Wall got one back for the Warriors as his long-range shot bounced through; but Tattersall again got into the action with a mark at the top of the square and made no mistake. It set up an 18-point quarter time lead; and the Power looked well set.
A three-goal deficit would be hard work for the Warriors to catch up. Try as they might in the second term, the Power had the answers to every challenge that would be thrown at them. It was two goals apiece in the second term, and the Power had every reason to feel confident as they went into the long break with a 15-point advantage.
It was a handy lead, but not insurmountable. The Warriors had to stop the Power from blowing the score out further, but also had to lift their own scoring. The first task was easier than the second, as the third quarter became a defensive arm-wrestle. As the minutes ticked by and the defences of both sides held firm, the tension was rising. It took 14 minutes for either team to trouble the goal umpires but a Power behind broke the deadlock.
A minute later, a key blow was struck as Will Freeborn in the pocket weaved his way through traffic and gave it off to John-Paul Canavan; and suddenly the margin was back to 10 points. Hopes were rising in the Warriors camp, and the Power knew they had more work to do if they were to hang on.
Canavan’s goal was the only major score for the third term, with the Power hanging on by 11 points at the last change. But they looked to be home when Chris Briody found himself in space at the 50 metre line, ran and bounced three times before slamming the ball through an open goal. 19 points clear, looking good; and the Power faithful on the sidelines were growing more vocal.
At 14 minutes into the last quarter, Henry Wheatley threw the Warriors a lifeline when a pack formed and he soccered the ball off the deck through the middle. And at 18 minutes, Jim Fogarty marked within striking distance and drilled the ball through. Suddenly the margin was back to five points. Having trailed all day, they had a chance to steal the flag at the death.
The clock was deep in time-on and the Warriors ran the ball forward again. And on the lead, diving for the slips-catch mark, was David Munday. 30 metres out, knowing the fate of the premiership was hanging on this kick. He would kick that shot 100 times out of 100 at training, but in the pressure of a premiership-deciding kick it was no certainty. He strikes it, he likes it; and suddenly the Warriors are in front!
The siren sounded not long after the decisive goal, and the Warriors had come from nowhere to steal a flag that looked destined for the Power all day. John-Paul Canavan was awarded the best-on-ground medal; but there were many for the Warriors that had stood and delivered when it mattered most.
Disappointment for the Power, having led all day only to be denied in the final moments. But this was the Warriors’ day, as even when all looked lost at various times through the afternoon they managed to keep fighting and work their way to their unlikely premiership.