West has secured its spot in the A-Grade Grand Final for the first time in 16 years with a hard-fought 27-point victory over North at Jubilee Oval on the weekend, setting up a meeting with South to decide this year’s premiers.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s something we set out at the start of the year; our main goal was to get ourselves to the to the final game,” West coach, Nathan Pearce, told us.
“And that just happened. It’s a great achievement by everyone at the club, the players, the staff, the board. We’ve giving ourselves an opportunity now to get our first premiership in 33 years.”
On the game itself, in a tough and physical encounter, the Bulldogs got the early jump, kicking the first two goals of the match through captain Shane Dalby, and Anthony Henderson. The Robins slotted the next four goals to wrestle the lead in their favour before Henderson stepped up 30 seconds before the quarter-time siren to cut the margin to seven points at the first break.
The physicality continued from the second quarter restart as West’s Lachlan Harvey slotted his second of the afternoon after receiving a 50m penalty that saw North’s Jack Burke shown a yellow card. For the rest of the quarter, both teams had bursts and kicked goals, but it was the Robins who extended their lead to 20 points as the teams went into the changerooms.
North came out in the second half with intent, kicking the first two goals of the third quarter to be within a kick once more. Harvey’s fifth of the match and two goals in quick succession to Suni Forner ensured West wouldn’t surrender the lead easily as the side went into the final break with a 26-point lead.
The Bulldogs started the fourth quarter in a similar vein, with Adam Slattery getting things going on the scoreboard only for the Robins to respond quickly again through goals to Brock Ellis – his third – and Harvey – his sixth – for a game-high lead of 32 points.
Jayden Kelly found a late goal for North as the final siren neared, and sounded, to the delight of West’s players, coaches, and supporters.
“Unfortunately, I reckon we saved our worst footy to last” – North coach Pitt.
West coach Pearce said he was pleased with how the team bounced back.
“We accepted we weren’t going to finish top spot reasonably early on in the season. From a coaching group, we were able to try a few things when we played North the last couple of times and we identified some areas where we could expose them and we implemented that on Saturday.
“They got a jump on us, had a two-goal start and then I think after that, our guys really settled and played the game plan that we spoke about during the week to a tee.”
North coach Mark Pitt told us he was disappointed.
“Unfortunately, I reckon we saved our worst footy to last, which is disappointing,” he said.
“But credit to West, a few of their players through the midfield showed us what fitness is all about, they ran and covered four quarters of the game. We unfortunately were exposed on a hot day and our fitness didn’t keep up with theirs and unfortunately we didn’t play our brand of football, which is disappointing.”
This week’s A-Grade Grand Final takes place on Saturday, September 2 at Jubilee Oval from 2.45pm where West and South will battle it out for the premiership.
Goals: Lachlan Harvey (West) 6, Anthony Henderson (North) 5, Brock Ellis (West), Suni Forner (West) 3