PYRAMID Hill kicked the last goal of the match to clinch a thrilling three-point victory over Maiden Gully YCW in Saturday’s Loddon Valley league under-18 grand final.
The Bulldogs had double the scoring shots than the Eagles, but were trailing late before co-captain Mitch Stephens kicked what proved to be the match-winning goal after he converted from 20m out following a contested mark.
The Bulldogs prevailed 3.13 (31) to 4.4 (28) to claim back-to-back premierships as they again beat Maiden Gully YCW in the grand final.
The fact only seven goals were kicked for the game, including just two in the first half, highlighted just how tough the breezy conditions were at Bridgewater.
The Bulldogs’ tally of 3.13 included a wasteful 1.8 during the second quarter. “It was a tough day to kick goals, even with the breeze, so while we were 1.9 at half-time, there were probably only two easy chances that we missed,” Pyramid Hill coach Nathan Fitzpatrick said.
“It was obviously very nerve-wracking in that last quarter, but fantastic that the boys were able to get over the line.”
The Eagles – who led by four points at three quarter-time – did the bulk of the attacking against the breeze at the scoreboard end in the final term, but the Bulldogs defended gallantly to repel and then run over the top of their rivals late.
“We tried a bit of a zone defence this year and at times it fell down. But we kept at it, kept practicing and it held up today,” Fitzpatrick said.
Saturday’s victorious team featured 17 new players for the Bulldogs this year, one of which was Stephens, whose match-winner was the only goal of the final quarter.
“We had about nine from Echuca, six from Bendigo, one from Geelong… we plucked them from everywhere, but they have gelled together well,” Fitzpatrick said.
The best players for the Bulldogs were led by Matthew Farrell, Jordan Hutton, Stephens and Lachlan Dillon.
Wrap up from the Loddon Valley Under 18s Grand Final – Bendigo Umpires Association Report
Field Umpires Richard Hicks, Warren Gretgrix and Neville Cockerell.
Richard started the game at Bridgewater and said that the weather made it a very scrappy game with scoring at a premium. Warren felt it was very trying conditions, not only with the wind but also rain and hail, which turned the game into a real struggle and the skill level put to the test.
When asked who was the stand out team Richard said there was no stand out, that it was a very close contest all day, in fact when the final siren went Richard thought the other team had won. Warren agreed saying it was just a real battle all game.
The best on ground went to Brayden Riddell. Warren said he played in the ruck, set up across half back and sent the ball moving their way. Richard said he played a terrific game in ruck and played the classic kick behind play role, but it was a close call from a couple of other players.
Richard said he enjoyed was running with a couple of mates he just didn’t enjoy that cold feeling when you get wet with some light hail. He felt that both Warren and Neville have done a great job with the Loddon Valley umpires group this year. They tend to have a good cohesion together and try to have a joke during the breaks, it was also enjoyable to work with the young boundaries who I have had for a few games during the year, so to see them with the reward of a GF was great. Warren also said it was a pleasure to run with Richard & Nev again this year and it was great to see the young boundaries being rewarded for their year.