Square still top dogs in Bendigo
September 29, 2010By Richard Jones
Bendigo Football League...
GOLDEN SQUARE eased to its second consecutive Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football League premiership on Sunday with a 29-point victory over South Bendigo.
In front of a massive Queen Elizabeth Oval crowd which paid more than $60,000 at the gate the inaccurate Bulldogs were in front at every change.
The Bloods led for just six minutes of the big game, and that was in the very early stages. From then on, the Bulldogs took control with gun full-forward Grant Weeks landing three of his five goals for the day in the opening term.
But Weeks’ normal steadiness deserted him after quarter-time. With a possible draft choice from one of the AFL’s two new clubs on the cards, the 157-goal spearhead finished the grand final with 5.5 to his name.
It was enough to drag the Dogs to an 11.21 (87) to 8.10 (58) victory.
The 2010 premiership was the Square’s third flag for the 2000s but the Dogs’ first back-to-back success since 1988-89.
South’s midfield led by Aaron Connaughton, Daniel Anderson and Brady Childs could not counter their immediate Square opponents for the full journey.
Former WAFL centreman Simon Rosa, stand-in skipper Mark Lloyd, Shaun Young and Luke Hammond consistently pumped the ball into attack where Weeks and Matt O’Toole hauled in 11 marks each.
The Bloods’ forward line relied almost entirely on Michael Leech. Had early September’s Noah’s Ark rain not fallen on Bendigo delaying the 2010 finals series by a week, it’s likely Leech would not have been fit enough to play in the grand final.
But he proved his fitness last week and booted three of South’s eight goals. The Bloods’ other key forward hope, Steve Stroobants, was well held by Anthony Holdstock earning the Square defender the VCFL medal at the after-match presentations.
Holdstock’s half-back teammate Jack Geary was also very busy with his run and carry from defence for the Square.
The grand final seemed over nine minutes into the second term. The Bulldogs kicked three of the quarter’s first four goals to open up a 35-point buffer.
However, a lift in intensity by South ensured the game was still up for grabs in the second half.
The Bloods nailed the last two goals of the first half through Leech and small forward Alex Galea to reduce the deficit to 27 points at the main break.
Buoyed by that burst, South Bendigo dominated possession in the first 10 minutes of the third term in the brilliant September sunshine.
But they did not dominate on the scoreboard. Anderson and Stroobants both hit the post from shots just 30 metres out.
Square wasn’t much better. Five straight minor scores, two eminently kickable, left South well and truly in the game.
It took defender Josh Baird to show his more illustrious Bulldog teammates where the big sticks were with a great angled shot at the city end.
With the Bulldogs six goals in front at three-quarter time, the Bloods needed the early charge. Coach Rick Coburn roared at his charges: “Be brave, boys. Be brave,” at the last huddle and they came out fired up.
Busy midfielder Anderson booted the first goal of the last stanza and the Bloods had a sniff.
South dominated the early going but Stroobants, Galea, Jackson Ireland and Gavin Bowles all missed shots on the run to ease the pressure on the grand final favorites.
Fittingly, it was Weeks who sealed the Bendigo Advertiser Cup for the Square when he marked and goaled from 40 metres out at the 20-minute mark.
The Dogs went inside the 50m arc 53 times to South’s 40, took 21 markes inside 50 to South’s eight and had 21 stoppage clearances to the Bloods 16. Centre clearances were close, favouring Square only 13-10.
GOLDEN SQUARE 5.5 8.10 10.17 11.21 (87)
SOUTH BENDIGO 2.1 5.1 6.5 8.10 (58)
Golden Square: Grant Weeks 5, Shaun Young 2, Josh Baird, James Bristow, Simon Rosa. Matthew O’Toole. South Bendigo: Michael Leech 3, Alex Galea, Daniel Anderson, Leigh Davies, John Hardinge, Dayne Frew.
Golden Square: Simon Rosa, Matthew O’Toole, Anthony Holdstock, Jack Geary, Luke Hammond, Mark Lloyd, Grant Weeks, Josh Baird. South Bendigo: Shane Lefevre, Aaron Connaughton, Phil Carroll, Daniel Anderson, Michael Leech, Pascale Craig and John Hardinge.
Coaches: Golden Square: Nick Carter. South Bendigo: Rick Coburn.
Captains: Mark Lloyd (GS), John Hardinge (SB).
South skipper John Hardinge, 31, will weigh up in the next few weeks whether to continue on into 2011.
He’s played more than 200 senior games with the Bloods, has won South’s best and fairest award three times and last weekend was named No. 1 ruckman in the BFL’s Team of the Decade (2000-2009).
Nalder Medal: Jack Geary (GS). VCFL Medal: Anthony Holdstock (GS).