Third time’s a charm

Leongatha has clinched the 2017 Gippsland League premiership with a thrilling one-point win over Maffra at the weekend, 15.10 (100) to 15.9 (99).

It was third time lucky for the Parrots after consecutive losses in the 2015 and 2016 grand finals.

Coach Beau Vernon was overcome with emotion after the win and praised his chargers for their grit.

“I’m so proud of these players, I’m proud of my family and I’m just proud of this club,” Vernon said.

The opener was all Leongatha, with Chris Dunne scoring the first goal of the game and two others to take his tally to three at the first break.

The Parrots went in to quarter time with a 24-point lead and with the first two majors of the second looked to be teaming away.

Four consecutive goals to the Eagles got them within 12 points at the main break.

Maffra scored four in the third to head in to the final change just a point in the red.

Dunne stood up again in the last quarter, scoring the first and the last of the term to help his side to a spectacular one-point win.

Vernon said bouncing back after consecutive losses was “difficult” for some of the Parrots but said it also served as a motivator.

“It was pretty hard for some of the boys to come back, it’s not an easy thing to do,” Vernon said.

“It’s something we spoke about but its not something we focused on this year, this year was completely different and we just had that determination.

“We can’t change the past, we can only focus on the future and we just wanted it so much and never gave up today.

Despite the hoodoo of back-to-back grand final losses Vernon said he was quite “level-headed” coming into the decider.

“I was actually pretty calm coming in to the game and we just spoke about what we had to do.”

Vernon also applauded Maffra for it’s showing and said his side showed its resilience when the Eagles fought back late in the game.

“I thought we stuck it out and stood up when they came at us hard,” he said.

Maffra coach Wayne Butcher praised Leongatha for its breakthrough win, admitting “if we had to lose to anyone we’d lose to Leongatha”.

“[Leongatha] has come out really strong this year and they’re deserving of the win,” Butcher said.

Best-on-ground plaudits went to Dunne his six-goal haul and Parrots co-captain Hayden Browne.

Darren Sheen bagged five goals for the Eagles and was judged their best player.