Day of the Dogs

Newborough has ended a 13-year wait to lift the Mid Gippsland Football League premier’s trophy after defeating Yallourn-Yallourn North in the senior grand final on Saturday.

The Bulldogs turned in a dominant second-half performance to defeat the Bombers 12.15 (87) to 5.16 (46).

Speaking after the game, Bulldogs coach Dean Caldow attributed the win to his team’s depth and willingness to play for each other.

“I’m just rapt for the playing group and it is about them and they’ve clearly showed even with the players that missed out… we were still strong enough as a playing group to get the job done,” Caldow said.

The win breaks a string of grand final heartbreaks for Newborough, which lost three premiership deciders between 2012 and 2014.

Caldow, who coached the Bulldogs to their flag in 2003, said if his side continued playing grand finals they would eventually win one.

“It’s been 13 years since the club won one and they lost three in a row only two years ago,” he said.

“So there’s 10 players that played in those three losses and they’ll be starting to think ‘are we going to win one?’

“I think if you’re consistently playing finals and you’re consistently knocking on the door you’re eventually going to win one.”

Liam Carolan opened the Bulldogs account in the third minute of the first quarter with a lot of end-to-end work, which tested both teams’ defences.

Tom Hutton kicked two majors and Dean MacDonald one for the Bombers, with Carolan contributing another before the end of the first quarter.

At the end of the first term, the Bombers led 3.6 (24) to Newborough’s 2.3 (15).

MacDonald added two more in the second term which started strongly for YYN, before Newborough began to take control.

By half-time the Bulldogs were within two points, with the Bombers on 5.8 (38) to Newborough’s 5.6 (36).

Caldow attributed the closing of the gap to the Bulldogs’ use of the ball.

“I think we started to win a bit more contested ball and we had good players on the outside who were starting using to use the ball a bit better,” he said.

“Eventually we did break them open with pressure and once you get on top all of a sudden the confidence and momentum (come).”

Phillip Hicks put the Bulldogs in front in a four-goal to none term where Newborough applied pressure to restrict YYN to five behinds.

At the last change the Bulldogs held a commanding 9.12 (66) to 5.13 (43) lead.

Newborough’s back line, led by Adam Kennedy, gave the Bombers nothing in the final term and by the end of the quarter YYN had only managed to add three behinds to their tally.

Carolan led the way for Newborough, kicking four majors and Chris Hancock and Joshua Hecker contributed two each.

Lachlan Fanning, Anthony Battista, Phillip Hicks and Stuart Robertson kicked one each.

Caldow singled out Hecker for praise.

“I thought Josh Hecker (was excellent) breaking the lines in the back line and then going forward and causing some real headaches for the opposition,” he said.

“Thomas Wilson a strong player and Stuey Robinson, another smart ball user, used the ball well.

“I think it was a really good team effort right across the board; everyone played their role.”

League leading goal kicker MacDonald kicked three majors for YYN and Barry Brooks two.

Bombers coach Adam Bailey attributed Newborough’s win to a consistent performance throughout the game.

“I really think they came out and played a better four quarter game of footy,” Bailey said.

“I had our guys really prepped and I thought they (Newborough) were fairly strong across the board and they played a bit bitter, the ball bounced their way and credit to them.”

He said everyone contributed to the team’s performance, but “probably not for four quarters”.

“Dale Murphy going forward I thought this finals series was excellent, his work ethic, the way he goes about his footy (was fantastic),” Bailey said.

“Dean McDonald down forward he played a great game as well (and) probably our backline as well – they held strong, they really tried and did their best.”

Thomas Wilson received the best on ground medal, with Carolan, Robertson, Hecker, Damon Hansen and Luke Mulqueen also named among the Bulldogs’ best.

YYN’s best were Tyler Brown, Campbell MacInnes, Todd Dobson, Owen Budge, Lachlan Little and Barry Brooks.