LOCKINGTON-Bamawm United has the opportunity to add another chapter to its Heathcote District Football League dynasty when it meets North Bendigo in Saturday’s grand final.
The Cats have won the past three premierships - one of which was against North Bendigo by 94 points two years ago.
However, unlike the past three grand finals, the Cats will go into Saturday’s clash at Huntly carrying the underdog tag against a Bulldogs side they lost to twice during the home and away season and finished two games behind on the ladder.
“North Bendigo has been the standout side all season, there’s no doubt about that,” Cats coach Adrian Dohnt said this week.
“I think as a club we’ve done a fantastic job to get to where we are, and now that we’ve got a ticket to play on Saturday, anything can happen once you get there.
“It has been really good to see the way some of our younger players have stepped up this year.
“Marcus Angove, Rhys Woodland, Gavin Broad, who came across from Rochester, and Jeremy Mundie before he got injured have all had really good seasons, and Matt Bongiovanni has taken it to another level.
“It’s important to have that mix of youth and experience, and then if you’ve got a few in that 25 to 27 age group, that’s what it’s all about and we’ve been able to play a good standard of footy together.”
After losing the qualifying final in extra-time to Leitchville-Gunbower, the Cats have prevailed in two cut-throat finals the past fortnight to make their fifth grand final in a row.
Their big-game experience was telling in the third quarter of their first semi-final win over Mount Pleasant when the game was on the line, and in the first half of last week’s preliminary final victory over Leitchville-Gunbower when they set the game up.
The Cats have been the benchmark side of the HDFL since 2011.
Since losing the 2010 grand final to the undefeated Heathcote, the Cats have not only won three flags in a row against Heathcote (6 points), North Bendigo (94) and Huntly (58) under former coach Kahl Oliver, they have also won 64 of 73 games.
“From a club perspective, it’s a great achievement to get into a fifth grand final in a row,” said Dohnt, who has played in all three flags and was best on ground in last year’s win over Huntly.
“We’re only a small community of about 300, but the way the club goes about its recruiting, it’s very welcoming and very hard to leave once you get involved.”
Among the recruits to have joined the Cats this season is former Hawthorn and North Melbourne player Jonathan Hay, who kicked three goals in last week’s preliminary final before leaving the field with hamstring tightness.
One of the cornerstones of the Cats’ success remains an experienced defence that only once in its past 69 games has conceded a score of more than 100.
If the Cats are to triumph on Saturday, they would become the first HDFL club since Heathcote North, which won five flags in a row between 1955 and 1959, to win at least four-consecutive premierships.
Rd 1: D COLBINABBIN BY 34.
Best: M. Bongiovanni, C. Hudson, K. Oliver, S. Keleher, T. Bacon, C. Moon.
Rd 2: D HEATHCOTE BY 63.
Best: M. Angove, M. Deledio, N. O’Brien, T. Bacon, R. Jensen.
Rd 3: D ELMORE BY 124.
Best: P. Hudson, J. Mundie, K. Oliver, N. O’Brien, L. Collins, C. Hudosn.
Rd 5: D L’VILLE-GUNBOWER BY 19.
Best: C. Hudson, S. Keleher, M. Bongiovanni, R. Jensen, L. Collins.
Rd 6: D MOUNT PLEASANT BY 63.
Best: R. Jensen, S. Keleher, P. Hudson, C. Hudson, T. Bacon, K. Oliver.
Rd 7: LT NORTH BENDIGO BY 16.
Best: T. Bacon, C. Hudson, L. Deledio, P. Hudson, S. Keleher, J. Hay.
Rd 8: D HUNTLY BY 22.
Best: S. Keleher, L. Main, K. Oliver, T. Bacon, L. Deledio, A. Dohnt.
Rd 9: LT WHITE HILLS BY 10.
Best: M. Angove, A. Dohnt, G. Broad, S. Keleher, J. Hay, J. Monaghan.
Rd 10: D COLBINABBIN BY 6.
Best: C. Hudson, J. Halloran, A. Dohnt, N. Bacon, G. Broad, J. Hay.
Rd 11: D HEATHCOTE BY 107.
Best: M. Angove, A. Dohnt, C. Hudson, M. Deledio, N. O’Brien, J. Monaghan.
Rd 12: D ELMORE BY 90.
Best: J. Halloran, M. Angove, J. Hay, J. Mundie, L. Deledio, S. Keleher.
Rd 14: d L’VILLE-GUNBOWER BY 5.
Best: D. Lucas, M. Angove, T. Bacon, M. Bongiovanni, S. Keleher, C. Hudson.
Rd 15: D MOUNT PLEASANT BY 6.
Best: J. Hay, J. Halloran, C. Hudson, M. Bongiovanni, L. Collins, M. Angove.
Rd 16: LT NORTH BENDIGO BY 1.
Best: S. Keleher, T. Bacon, C. Hudson, K. Oliver, M. Bongiovanni, N. Bacon.
Rd 17: D HUNTLY BY 19.
Best: R. Woodland, C. Hudson, K. Oliver, S. Keleher, C. Treacy.
Rd 18: D WHITE HILLS BY 38.
Best: N. Bacon, R. Jensen, R. Woodland, G. Broad, M. Angove.
Qual final: LT LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER BY 6.
Best: C. Hudson, N. Bacon, S. Keleher, M. Bongiovanni, M. Angove, L. Collins.
1st semi: D MOUNT PLEASANT BY 33.
Best: M. Bongiovanni, M. Angove, R. Woodland, L. Main, R. Jensen.
Prelim final: D LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER BY 31.
Best: M. Angove, M. Bongiovanni, M. Dobson, T. Bacon, G. Broad.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Won: 15 Lost: 4
Average for: 96.3 Against: 63.3
Quarters won: 48/76
Average win: 39.7 Loss: 6.8
Time in front: 69.7%