SANDHURST celebrated consecutive under-18s premierships in the Bendigo Football League after Saturday’s hard-fought victory against Golden Square.
For the fourth September in a row, the Dragons and Bulldogs vied for grand final glory.
Golden Square led 13-1 after 10 minutes as wingman Blayne Ryan-Storey and in-form full-forward Brayden Knox were on target.
The Dragons forwards were under enormous pressure from a dogged defence which intercepted passes or swatted the ball in many marking duels.
The Dragons first goal was in the 18th minute after Matt Gray marked an Isaac Broadbent pass.
Golden Square led by 11 points at the 11-minute mark of the second when Jacob Greenwood marked on the grandstand wing and benefitted from a 50m penalty.
The Dragons fired up to goal twice in a minute.
The classy Martin Leyden snapped truly, while centre half-forward Tom May gathered the loose ball, dodged an opponent and goaled on the run to lead 22-20 by half-time.
Sandhurst’s run of five unanswered goals in the third quarter included a set shot from Fraser McCarthy on the 50m arc, while Leyden (2), Gray and Lachlan Ross were on target.
By three quarter-time, the Shane Meade-coached Sandhurst led 58-25.
A goal by Bulldogs’ captain Jack Daley in the second minute was the ideal start to the term.
A Sandhurst shot at goal which hit the post was signalled a goal, but then overruled.
May goaled on the run from near the boundary in the scoreboard pocket for the Dragons to lead 63-31.
But it was the Dogs who finished with plenty of run.
Knox leapt high for another mark and passed to Greenwood for his second goal.
Jack Murray marked and goaled and when Greenwood goaled on the run it was 66-49 in the 20th minute.
Square’s Brayden Klemke marked on the grandstand wing and goaled after a 50m pnealty to be within 11 points at the 21-minute mark.
After a string of points by both teams, the Dragons celebrated an eight-point victory.
“This is one of the best groups I have coached,” Meade said shortly after a rousing rendition of the club song capped a season in which it was beaten just once.
“Although we had beaten Golden Square in all three previous games, we knew today was going to be a tough game.
“Momentum started to swing our way just before half-time,” said Meade.
“Our third quarter was fantastic, but so was Square’s fightback.
“The attitude of the all the boys to work hard, and enjoy their footy is fantastic, winning a grand final makes it even more enjoyable.”