Grand Final Review – Men’s Premier Division Reserves
Written by Michael Shillito
Premier Reserves Grand Final
It was an 11:20am start at Kanebridge Oval for the Premier Reserves Grand Final; which like the Under 19s that had come before it saw North Shore Bombers up against UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs had taken out the minor premiership by a minute percentage gap, forcing the Bombers to play the Qualifying Final. But the Bombers won that final comfortably, and then defeated the Bulldogs in the Major Semi-Final. The Bulldogs hit back in the Preliminary Final; and so it was the Bombers and the Bulldogs facing off in this premiership decider.
The Bulldogs burst out of the blocks, and Darren Pfeiffer snapped the opening goal after just a couple of minutes. While the Bombers were holding back, the Bulldogs were on fire and were the dominant force around the ground. The ball was pumped into their forward 50 time and again, but their kicking radar was letting them down as shot after shot sailed wide of the big sticks.
The Bombers rarely ventured forward, and their first goal came against the run of play as Matt Buskariol held a one-out mark and played on to score. But the Bulldogs were dominating around the ground and kept going forward; and after seven behinds in a row they finally achieved reward for effort as Fred Tricks put on some magic to find space and snap a well-placed goal. It set up a 13-point quarter time lead; and when Tom Chichester was left unattended to take an uncontested mark when the second quarter was just 30 seconds old, the Bulldogs were well placed.
It had been a poor start for the Bombers, and the scoring ratio of 10 scoring shots to one to that point in the game reflected the dominance of the Bulldogs. But now the game tightened up.
It became an arm-wrestle. The Bulldogs were on top, but the Bomber defence was working hard to keep them at bay. Slowly but surely the tide was beginning to turn as the Bulldog entries into their forward 50 were halted. As the quarter drew on, Bomber players that had barely been sighted in the first quarter began to accumulate possessions. But for all the Bombers’ efforts, they could only manage one behind; with the Bulldogs staying 18 points to the good at the long break.
As we ticked into the premiership quarter, the Bombers could feel themselves working their way back into the contest. But the Bulldog defence was magnificent, holding the Bomber charge out again and again. Minute after minute ticked by, the tension was building. No quarter asked or given, the contest on a knife-edge, and neither side was willing to crack.
It took 15 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, but a free kick behind play to Tom Meacham finally saw the Bombers get the goal that they had threatened for so long. Suddenly it was back to 12 points, the Bombers had the momentum and the contest was heating up. But the Bulldogs hit back deep in time-on, as Oscar Peter sharked the crumbs from a boundary throw-in and snapped truly over his shoulder.
The Bulldogs were 19 points ahead at the last change, but this game was not over yet; and a quick snap by serial goal-sneak Ben Cunningham at the five minute mark cut the margin to just 12 points. The North Shore faithful were in voice, as the opportunity for a comeback win was scented.
The Bombers kept coming, but the Bulldog defence held them out time and again. And the Bulldogs gave themselves enough of a buffer when Jeremy Eddy dribbled a goal through. Matt Buskariol snapped a quick reply, but the Bombers had got no closer. Time was running out, and the Bulldogs had done enough to prevail.
The final margin was 13 points. It had been a close contest, but the Bulldogs’ quick start had established a lead that the Bombers were unable to bridge. It had been a high standard contest, with several names from both sides who are more than capable of matching it at Premier Division level.
Fred Tricks was awarded the best on ground medal, while Jack O’Dwyer and Alex Foote were also prominent performers for the Bulldogs.
North Shore had received great service from Matt Whitbread, Tim Weston and Alex Morgan. But their slow start would cost them, forcing them into playing catch-up football for the rest of the game. And although they had some excellent passages of play, they were unable to put on enough scoreboard pressure during the second and third quarters to make the Bulldogs crack.
This was the Bulldogs’ premiership, and one they had earned well; a reward for the depth in senior talent they have accumulated at the club. Although they still had one more Grand Final to play, the Bulldogs as a club were assured that a solid season would be rewarded with some silverware.
UNSW Eastern Suburbs 2.7 3.7 4.9 5.11 (41)
North Shore 1.0 1.1 2.2 4.4 (28)
UNSW-ES – T. Chichester, O. Peter, F. Tricks, J. Eddy, D. Pfeiffer.
North Shore – M. Buskariol 2, T. Meacham, B. Cunningham.
UNSW-ES – F. Tricks, J. O’Dwyer, A. Foote, L. Hoy, T. Chichester, J. Eddy.
North Shore – M. Whitbread, T. Weston, A. Morgan, T. Meacham, J. Cubis, A. Bastas.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 10th October 2020.