Bruthen has earned a place in Omeo District football history with a second consecutive premiership, outperforming a Swifts Creek side that was chasing its first flag since 2011.
The premiership, coached by David Westland, caps off a brilliant season for the Bulldogs, who only lost two games en route to glory.
Last year Bruthen knocked off Lindenow South by 19 points and in perfect conditions at Swan Reach on Saturday it once again got over the line, rolling the Demons by 26 points.
It is the first time since its 1989 and ’89 flags that Bruthen has gone back-to-back, while Swifts Creek will have to wait until next year to have another shot at breaking its seven-year flag drought.
Swifts Creek made the 2012 and 2013 grand finals, but lost both to the Swampies.
The match was fought at a high intensity with some spectacular marking, courage, and at times niggle, but it was the Bulldogs who prevailed, setting up the win with a brilliant second quarter.
Bruthen, the minor premier, was the first side to book a spot in the grand final with a narrow semi final win, while the Demons were made to work for their spot, overcoming Omeo Benambra by one point in the elimination semi final and defeating Lindenow South in the preliminary final.
Following one of the closest regular seasons in recent memory, the top four were separated by just four wins and that made for a grand final that lived up to the hype early.
The Demons were behind by two points at the first break and were well and truly in the contest in the first stanza with the Bulldogs unable to make the most of their forward thrusts.
Swifts Creek’s defence held firm as Bruthen missed multiple chances to kick out to what could have been a sizeable lead.
In the second quarter the Bulldogs shot out of the gates and never relinquished control of the game despite the best efforts of the Demons, who were brilliant for the last quarter and a half.
Craig Taylor received the best-on-ground medal after a spectacular display across half back. In the first term when the Demons were on the charge, Taylor stood up in defence cutting off multiple attacks with crucial marks.
Sinclair was just as impressive for Bruthen during his time in attack and on the ball, while Mullet was full of run out of defence.
Under pressure, Dylan Hack stood up in defence for the Demons, especially in the first term, while Maisey and Webb moved the ball well in the third and fourth quarters.
Jordy Cameron was consistent all game alongside winger, Jay Robbie.Bairnsdale Advertiser
1ST QUARTER REVIEW
The afternoon started with an ill-directed John Williams kick that went out on the full.
A quick thinking Todd Cook prevented the ball from leaving Bruthen’s inside 50 with his smother resulting in a throw in.
From the throw in Nick Sinclair roved the pack brilliantly and hit last year’s grand final best-on-ground, Matt Davey, on the lead. Davey made no mistake from his set shot from 40 metres out straight in front, slamming home the Bulldogs? first goal of the match.
However, Swift Creek found an immediate response. Tyson Clague gave away a push in the back free kick to Jesse Hack, who started a chain of quick handballs that ended with Brodie Cameron kicking a goal on the run from 45m out.
It was one goal each three minutes in.
After a contest inside 50, Davey earned a free kick following a careless tackle that slipped high. While his kick from 40m looked good off the boot, it faded late and went through for a behind.
From the resultant kick in the Demons worked the ball forward and were in a position to score, but the ball was rushed through for a behind.
For the next five minutes the game was played between the arcs as Swifts Creek’s Dylan Hack and Bruthen’s Craig Taylor collected plenty of touches at half back for their respective sides.
The Demons’ nearly scored their second goal of the match after Chris Webb won a clearance on the wing and hit Damian Tubb deep in the forward pocket, but the latter elected to play on instead of having a set shot and kicked a behind.
Swifts Creek was switched on at the following kick in with Jesse Hack kicking a goal on the run from directly in front 40m out, finishing off a great team play.
At the 11-minute mark the Demons were up by one straight kick.
Jordy Cameron pushed his side’s lead out to seven points from the resulting ball up with his long bomb from the centre square sailing through for a behind.
Bruthen cut the lead back to a goal almost immediately as a Josh Weeks attempt was touched on the line.
The Bulldogs managed to win back the ball after the kick in and when a leading Cook was hit on the lead on a tight angle, he had an opportunity to level the scores and nailed the tough set shot with the scoreboard reading 14-14 at the 14-minute mark.
Bruthen then won the contest in the middle with Brenden Flinn hitting a bullet pass to league best and fairest, Harley Kenner. An under pressure Kenner was unable to hold onto the mark, but he quickly trapped his fumble and snapped at goal. His quick attempt looked like it was going through, but it was rushed over the line, giving his side a slender one-point lead.
Swifts Creek managed to catch Bruthen off guard with a quick kick in and was soon in attack, but the Bulldogs were awarded a free kick at half back and the Demons’ momentum was halted.
Flinn elected to play on from the free kick, dashing along the wing and hitting Kenner, whose tough shot sailed through for a behind 18 minutes in.
For the remainder of the first stanza neither side was able to add to their total with the defending champs leading by two points.
The Bulldogs had plenty of forward thrusts but were being well held by Tom King and Dylan Hack in defence.
At the other end of the ground Craig Taylor was everywhere. Small in stature, Taylor took some big contested marks and was the source of multiple Bruthen attacks from half back.
The 16-14 scoreline in favour of Bruthen was a fair representation of the contest. While the ladder leaders were on top, Swifts Creek looked as if it belonged in the biggest game of the season.
At Bruthen’s quarter time huddle the message from assistant coach, Neil Fleming, was clear.
“When we got the ball we just kicked it back down the line to them. We didn’t look wide,” he said.
“It was the first quarter so we can put that down to nerves, but we can play that clinical brand of football that we have played all season.
“The first thing you need to do when you get the ball is look left and right for an open teammate.
“We have been really good in then contest so keep putting your heads over the ball. We just need to be smarter when we use the ball.”
Swifts Creek coach, Brodie Cameron, was thrilled with how his side had performed and encouraged it to keep taking the game on.
“If you look at the scores we are right there. Using our first options is how we are going to lift our game to the next level in the second quarter,” he said.
“Give the first options, keep running the footy and if you take a mark don’t hold onto the ball too long. Look for a target and hit them.
“This side of the ground (scoreboard side) I don’t know why we are not using it. There is that much space, get the ball out there. I don’t know why we are bringing it out here (clubrooms side) every time. Get on your bikes and get on that other side of the ground and run the ball.”Bairnsdale Advertiser
Fleming’s words seemed to have an immediate impact in the second stanza as Bruthen went forward from the first centre bounce with a Cook kick inside 50.
Just as it seemed Swifts Creek had worked its way out of defence, a Sinclair effort resulted in an out on the full kick. Jamie Barton centered the ball and Kenner timed his run to perfection, gathering the ball at the front of the pack and goaling.
As a result of the Bulldogs’ goal they led by eight points after two minutes of play.
From the resultant centre bounce Jordy Cameron sent his side into attack with Jay Robbie earning a holding the ball free kick. His set shot fell short and was rushed through for a behind.
The Demons managed to win the ball back off the kick in with Jordy Cameron sending a high ball inside 50. Robert Maisey gathered the ball after it fell to the front of the pack, but his quick snap was off target and cut Bruthen’s lead to a goal.
Taylor played an instrumental role in Bruthen’s next score, taking an intercept mark across half back and sending his side down the wing. The Bulldogs? inside 50 entry cleared the pack with Sinclair seemingly running into an open goal after gathering the ball on the run, but his shot from 30m out hit the post.
After that the Demons struggled to find a way out of defence as the Bulldogs? intensity began to lift.
Bruthen’s pressure brought about its fourth major eight minutes in with Cook awarded a holding the ball free kick 25m out straight in front. Cook nailed the simple set shot and put his side up by 13 points.
The Bulldogs added to their lead two minutes later as Kenner earned a free kick after a high tackle and took a shot from 55m out. His long shot dropped short, but Sinclair took a strong contested mark while surrounded by defenders and clinically drove the ball through the big sticks from the goal square.
The Demons nearly had a quick reply, but Nathan Fehst’s dribble kick, which was a result of some hard work by Maisey and Jordy Cameron, from a tight angle went through for a behind.
The behind reduced the deficit to three goals, however Bruthen was dominating as it began to carve Swifts Creek up with its precise ball movement.
To the Demons’ credit they lifted and for a five-minute period went even with the reigning premiers, however Grattan Mullet moved his side from defence into attack with a quick kick that fell into the lap of a leading Davey 15m out. Davey did not miss from straight in front to put Bruthen 24 points up at the 15-minute mark.
From that point the ball lived in Bruthen’s forward half.
Sinclair scored his side’s next major with a classy kick on the outside of the boot, putting the Bulldogs five goals up with the clock winding down.
Sinclair halted a promising Swifts Creek attack and sent his side back inside 50, but Jamie Barton’s snap went out on the full.
The Demons’ clearing kick was marked by Weeks, who found an unmarked Flinn 40m out straight in front. Flinn kicked truly and extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 36 points.
While Swifts Creek was winning plenty of the football, it was unable to find a clear avenue to goal with Taylor the standout in Bruthen’s defence.
On the eve of half time, Bevan Lupo-Worseldine received a Sinclair tap from a boundary throw in from deep in the forward pocket and snapped truly on his left.
At half time Bruthen had built a 42-point lead as the Demons struggled to find an answer to the defending champions’ pressure despite having plenty of the ball.
Sinclair was involved in everything for the Bulldogs, while Taylor, Mullett and Ben Murphy were finding plenty of the football.
King stood up under lots of pressure in defence for the Demons alongside Dylan Hack, while Jordy and Brodie Cameron were giving their all in the middle.
Swifts Creek would need to halt Bruthen’s run and carry, which has troubled a lot of teams this season, in the second half to win its first premiership since 2011, but the red-hot Bulldogs would not easily let a chance to claim back-to-back flags go.Bairnsdale Advertiser
Taylor was in the thick of the action early in third quarter, starting a chain of kicks that resulted in Sinclair kicking a behind with the outside of his boot.
Sinclair had another opportunity to kick goal a short while later thanks to an accurate Ben Murphy pass, but his shot on the run faded to the right.
Kenner played a key role in Bruthen’s first goal of the second half after he found Sinclair with a long bomb, the latter caressing the ball home from 20m out on a slight angle four minutes in.
Lupo-Worseldine was the next Bulldog to add a major after he nailed his running shot at goal one minute later, finishing some good work by Rhys Kennedy and Kenner in the midfield.
With Bruthen up by 56 points, Barton snapped his side’s third of the term inside the first eight minutes, putting the result seemingly beyond doubt, but Swifts Creek wasn’t going down without a fight.
The Demons good work was almost undone when Flinn found Kenner within goal kicking distance, but the latter’s shot missed to the left.
A short time later Beau Hack received a handball and kicked long into the attacking 50. No one was able to mark his kick, but Jay Robbie cleverly followed the ball out the back of the pack and scored a goal, moving Swifts Creek within 57 points 14 minutes in.
The Demons kicked another six minutes later when an ill-directed Mitch Clague kick was punished.
Swifts Creek had stabilised and it cut the lead again with Gabe Last earning a push in the back free kick and finding Webb, whose kick to a pack inside 50 fell to Maisey. Masiey’s quick snap went through for a behind, but moved the Demons within 50 points.
The resulting kick in went out on the full and Beau Hack made Bruthen pay, goaling from a tight angle 30m out at the 23-minute mark.
The Demons were well and truly back in the contest after struggling in the second term, but with only one quarter to go they would need a miracle to snatch an unlikely win.
At the three quarter time huddle King encouraged his Swifts Creek teammates to continue to aim for the win.
“We have managed to claw our way back into the game after we locked down and start doing the dirty things,” he said.
“We are down but we can win. It takes grit, it takes heart, but I know that we can do it. It comes down to whether or not we want to have a crack. Do we want to win a grand final or not?”Bairnsdale Advertiser
The Bulldogs set about ending any hopes of a Demons fight back early and when Murphy kicked truly from 40m out inside the first three minutes, putting his side up by 50 points, the defending champs looked set to secure consecutive premierships.
Cook then found a leading Davey, who was unable to convert his set shot from 20m out on a slight angle as it faded right.
At the eight-minute mark a Brodie Cameron torpedo fell into the lap of Shane Jackson, who kept Swifts Creek’s faint chances of a comeback alive with a clinical finish.
Shortly afterwards Davey showed some class, hitting Sinclair on the boundary with low 30m kick that left the defenders with no opportunity to spoil.
Sinclair’s shot looked good off the boot, however fell short and was spoiled across the line for a behind.
Following an electric Maisey run along the wing in which he evaded two tacklers, Jackson lined up from the boundary line 30m out, but sprayed his shot for a behind.
Sixteen minutes in Jackson competed strongly in the air the next time Swifts Creek went forward, allowing Brodie Cameron to pick up the ball from the deck and snap a well-timed goal.
The Demons would add a goal and a behind in quick succession, however a late Bruthen goal put the result beyond doubt.
In the final minutes, Fehst scored his second goal of the game after being pushed in the back, while Webb and Sinclair added behinds for Swifts Creek and the Bulldogs respectively.
A dashing Maisey set sail for home after crossing from 50 with his attempt going through the big sticks as the siren sounded.
In the end the second quarter was the difference between the two sides. In the first, third and fourth quarters Swifts Creek showed that it could match it with the league’s best, but for a 20-minute period in the second term went missing and allowed Bruthen to take control of the game.Bairnsdale Advertiser
Match review taken from article published by the Bairnsdale Advertiser. To view original article in full online visit https://www.bairnsdaleadvertiser.com.au/news/local-news/52-dynamite-dogs-deliver-consecutive-flags-with-dominant-second-quarter
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