Phillip Island has secured back-to-back premierships after holding off a valiant Cora Lynn in an unforgettable Alex Scott and Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition grand final at Garfield on Saturday.
The reigning and minor premiers led all day and by as much as 32 points early in the third term, but had their own resilience pushed to its limit before eventually prevailing by four points.
Had the contest gone just a few minutes more, the Cobras – who kicked six of the last seven goals of the match – may have pinched it.
But the Island were not to be denied and were worthy champions, with their trademark grit, skill and meticulous organisation all coming to the fore on the big stage in the 9.11 (65) to 9.7 (61) win.
Jaymie Youle and Brendan Kimber were typically and inspirationally relentless, Jordan Patullo more than justified his selection with a game-high three goals and Hayden Bruce provided the sort of spark that routinely separates conquerors from the vanquished.
The latter was deservedly awarded the AFL Victoria Country Medal as best on ground.
For Cora Lynn, Billy Thomas and Troy Tharle were immense, restricting the influence of superstar ruck and competition best-and-fairest Cameron Pedersen, with the latter also proving a great outlet across half-forward.
Deep defenders Mitch Wallace and Shaun Sparks and running half-back Brent Urwin were also prominent.
It was revered Bulldogs coach Beau Vernon’s third premiership in a row, having also led Leongatha to a drought-breaking flag in the Gippsland League in 2017.
It was the fitting culmination to a dramatic day of grand final matches.
Competition newcomer Tooradin Dalmore enjoyed an occasion for the ages, with four premierships, including all three open age netball flags on offer as well as winning the reserves football in the most astonishing fashion.
The Seagulls trailed two-time reigning premier Koo Wee Rup all day before a free to Jake Genoni on centre wing was followed by a 50-metre penalty for overstepping the mark took the Seagulls forward within 40m of goal as the siren sounded.
Despite the trying conditions and weight of expectation on his shoulders, Genoni calmly slotted the goal to hand his club it’s maiden WGFNC premiership and the first reserves in its long and storied history.
Jason Kestle was named best on ground in the 4.7 (31) to 4.3 (27) victory.
The A Grade was more straightforward, with the Seagulls ending Dalyston’s stranglehold on netball’s biggest prize.
The two-time reigning premier went into the game as the underdog against a Tooradin Dalmore side that had taken all before it on its arrival in the competition this season.
The Seagulls were undefeated heading into the grand final and won every quarter – though never by more than three goals – on their way to 47-37 win.
Seagulls attacker Jess Cox was named best on court.
It was a tighter contest in B Grade with the same two sides only separated by two goals in a see-sawing contest.
The Seagulls ultimately prevailed, with Kelly Andrews’ nine last quarter goals proving decisive in the 46-44 victory, while mid courter Stacey Sawyer was named best on court.
Tooradin Dalmore made it three from three with a 31-26 win in the C Grade grand final against Bunyip.
Sharna O’Dwyer was best on court.
Inverloch Kongwak, Koo Wee Rup and Cora Lynn shared the junior netball titles, taking out the 17-and-under, 15-and-under and 13-and-under crowns against Phillip Island, Dalyston and Phillip Island respectively.
Sienna Morley (13&U) and Jessy Sadler (Inverloch Kongwak) were best on court, while Dalyston’s Ruby Brosnan was awarded the medal for her performance in a losing side on the 15&U decider.
Phillip Island capped a dominant day on the football field with premierships in both junior grades.
The Bulldogs kicked off the day with a 4.4 (28) to 2.3 (15) win against Nar Nar Goon in the under-16 grand final.
Island skipper Harry O’Brien was named best on ground, with Orlando Kane-Gillard and Finn Merryfull also catching the eye for the premiers.
Bailey Beet, Jack Gribbin and Euan Grierson were best for the Goon.
It was a similar story in the under-18 grand final, with Phillip Island eventually overcoming Inverloch Kongwak 4.3 (27) to 2.6 (18).
Daniel Bourke was awarded the AFL Victoria Country Medal, while Josh Ryan and Kai Mackenzie were among the other standouts for the Bulldogs.
Patrick Holian, Jack Hutchinson and Cooper McInnes were best for the Sea Eagles.
Despite the inclement weather, grand final day proved a great success for the competition, with 3638 people passing throughout the day.