Dogs’ grand final glory

Sale City has avenged its semi-final loss to Heyfield to seal an 53-point win over the Kangaroos in Saturday’s North Gippsland Football Netball League grand final.

By the time the siren went the result was a mere formality, with the Bulldogs recording an emphatic 13.14 (92) win over their opponent’s 5.9 (39).

There was no let-up from Sale City which looked to control the centre of the ground early, with Tye Morrison the first to find goal in the sixth minute on his way to a match haul of five.

Coach David Piasente joined him among the goal kickers in the 17th minute and by quarter time the Bulldogs had kept their opponents goalless, with the scores at 2.3 (15) to 0.2 (2).

When play resumed, Sale City continued to press the advantage, with Bodhi Walker (two), Tye Morrison, Rowan Bell and Brendon Rathnow all finding goal before Heyfield had a chance to add to its first quarter tally.

It wasn’t until the dying minutes of the first half that the Kangaroos had their first major, courtesy of Joel Dinsdale.

In the two sides’ previous encounter, Sale City squandered a narrow half-time lead to eventually lose by 28 points and Piasente was eager to avoid a repeat of the situation.

“I put a message on the board (saying) ‘are we willing to go the distance or do you want to be happy with what we’ve done?'” he said.

“And the boys responded with ‘we’re not happy – it starts again zero, zero and we’re going to go at it like we’ve been going at it in the first half’.”

The Bulldogs answered their coach’s call, with eventual best on ground Jacob Schuback, Thomas Wilson and Morrison all finding goal.

Heyfield fought back with three of their own – including two from James Beha and one from coach Joshua Stubbe.

But despite the fight back, momentum was with the Bulldogs who seemed to answer for everything.

At three quarter time Sale City led by an imposing 44 points – 10.12 (72) to 4.4 (28).

Less than two minutes in to the final term Walker bagged his third major, before Jesse Jackaway managed to drag one back for the Kangaroos.

Bell slotted another in the 19th minute before Morrison ended proceedings with his fifth.

Piasente said he was on a high after his team’s victory.

“I’m just so happy, just to play the exact way we’ve been trying to put the game together all year, to get our best side on the park and to deliver what we did today, four quarter effort (was incredible),” he said.

“The pressure was immense from the boys, we gave them no room to move – we gave them no free ball.”

He said his main joy was seeing players like Wilson, Tom Bowman, Walker and Morrison for taking their chances in the team.

“I’m just so proud of players that really didn’t get an opportunity last year that have just put in the work and just gone about their game at a different level this year,” Piasente said.

“That was probably the most enjoyable thing from today – seeing the players work who didn’t get a look in last year to this year really playing really good footy.”

The win built on the Bulldogs’ victory in the reserves grand final earlier in the day, something he said had a galvanising effect on the senior side.

“The pressure was on the reserves to perform and it carried through to the seniors,” he said.

Piasente said his team did not want to find itself in a situation where the reserves had won and the seniors had lost.

Meanwhile, Stubbe said the Bulldogs had outplayed his side from the outset.

“I honestly thought our mood was good going out there, but as soon as that ball went up the boys looked a bit flat footed,” he said.

“The boys looked like they didn’t want to chase, they didn’t want to man up.

“I myself am one of those, I hold myself accountable – you’ve got to have 22 contributors and we didn’t have them today.”

The loss means Heyfield have lost four grand finals in a row, something Stubbe said never got easier.

“You work all year, you start in November, you go through till today and you lose – it’s a long year,” he said.

“I’ve got no doubt they’ll come back next year and have another crack at it.

“You try to put the past behind you and not think about it, but four in a row, it’s taken its toll and they don’t get any easier.”