Dragons snare first flag since 2004 by Richard Jones

SandhurstDragonsSANDHURST snapped a 12-year BFL premiership drought with an emphatic 32-point win over old rivals Golden Square in Saturday’s 2016 grand final.

Inaccurate early the Dragons slammed home 8.5 after half-time to shut out the tiring Bulldogs.

The big dance featured an amazing scene right on three-quarter time.

Sandhurst led by three goals when the game erupted. Square on-baller Tom Toma was reported and yellow-carded for rough conduct after a sling tackle on Sandhurst winger Alex Wharton.

The incident sparked an all-in melee as the three-quarter time siren blared.

Chaotic scenes ensued, reminiscent of the VFL’s 1980 night grand final between North Melbourne and Collingwood as spectators spilled out onto the QEO.

When the umpires restored a semblance of order, Sandhurst’s James Coghlan took the subsequent shot at goal free kick after the siren, surrounded by a swarm of spectators –your correspondent among them, only three or four metres from Coghlan.

The shot fell short with the ball returned to the central umpires by youngsters who’d started their kick-to-kick, oblivious to the drama around them.

Early on the Dragons looked as wasteful as they’d been against Strathfieldsaye, exactly 12 months earlier.

Kicking against the breeze they peppered the goals but could manage just minor scores.

At the other end big Square full-forward Dylan Johnstone was too strong overhead for Hurst defender Angus Parry in one-on-one duels and slotted three majors, using the wind to great effect.

Finally 2016 Michelsen medallist Kristan Height outmuscled Dale Young to steer home Sandhurst’s first goal in the time-on period.

And even though the Dragons added the first two goals of the second term to Lee Coghlan and Koe Ngawati the Square bounced back with three crucial goals: to co-captain Jack Geary, Comanche Walls and Hamish Morcom.

But they’d manage just two more goals for the remainder of the grand final as the Dragons added 4.1 against the breeze in the pivotal third term, followed by 4.4 in the last.

Joel Wharton made sure there’d be no Bulldog revival when he booted the first two Sandhurst goals of the final term – both in the opening three minutes.

The second was one of the goals-of-the-day. Wharton landed a crucial major from 45 metres out, hemmed in on the boundary line on the scoreboard half-forward flank.

Final scores: Sandhurst 12.18 (90) def. Golden Square 8.10 (58).

Major goalkickers, Sandhurst: Joel Wharton 3, Lee Coghlan 2, Kristan Height 2. Golden Square: Dylan Johnstone 4, Hamish Morcom 2.

Match awards – Nalder Medal: Kristan Height (Sandhurst). AFL Victoria Medal: Simon Rosa (Golden Square).

The Nalder Medal added to Height’s burgeoning collection as he already has the season best and fairest medals from the Ovens and Murray, Goulburn Valley and Bendigo Football Leagues in his collection, the latter pocketed just last Monday night.

It was a bitter sweet moment for Rosa. One of the BFL’s premier midfielders and brother of AFL player Matt, the grand final was Rosa’s final game for Golden Square.

He’ll be 34 at the end of the year and a growing family plus expansion of his landscape gardening business means Rosa has to leave footy behind.





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