Saunders' joy quickly turns to heartache

LUKE Saunders jumped for joy and charged out on to the ground.

A couple of seconds later he stopped in his tracks on centre wing and put his hands to his head in shock.

The Gisborne coach thought Rod Sharp’s after the siren shot was sailing straight through the middle of the goals to give his side a famous victory.

“I started celebrating and was jumping around,’’ a clearly gutted Saunders admitted.

“The reality hit me pretty quickly. You win some and you lose some, I suppose.

“It was a great effort by the boys, but at the end of the day Golden Square won the prize.”

With Gisborne’s Michelsen Medal winner Scott Walsh breaking his leg in the first contest of the game and Golden Square jumping to a 33-point lead early in the second quarter, Gisborne’s hopes look dashed.

But Gisborne’s never-say-die attitude came to the fore and for the final three quarters of the game Saunders’ side was the better team in general play.

However, on the scoreboard Gisborne fell three points short.

“We missed a few shots on goal and that hurts, but Golden Square were better,’’ Saunders said.

“Being down that rotation after the first 30 seconds of the game put us out.

“We coped pretty well and all our plans worked well. We just couldn’t get in front on the scoreboard.”

Gisborne forward Darren Farrugia bagged six goals to be a worthy winner of the VCFL Medal.

“I still don’t know if Farrugia gets the credit in Bendigo he deserves,’’ Saunders said.

“He’s a star. I was confident Square didn’t have the right match-up for him.

“He was oustanding for us again.”

Saunders also reserved plenty of praise for full-back Heath Simpson, who restricted Golden Square star Grant Weeks to four goals.

“A lot of people look at him and think that he couldn’t do the job on Weeks,’’ Saunders said.

“But Heath is a very good player. Three times out of four games this year he’s kept Weeks to four goals or less.

“Weeks is a champion, so for Heath to do that is a great effort.”

Saunders said the heartbreak of losing the grand final by three points should inspire his side for 2013 and beyond.

“I made a strong point to the boys after the game that it takes time to win premierships, you just don’t win them,’’ he said.

“Golden Square went down for a year or two, came back and lost a close grand final to Eaglehawk and has now won four flags in a row.

“We’re in a similar position. We went down, last year we made the preliminary final and this year the grand final.

“We exceeded my expectations this year, but we’ve got to take this experience and make us stronger.

“I really feel for the likes of Casey Summerfield and Shaun Comerford,’’ Saunders said.

“They’ve played in two grand finals now (2006 and 2012) and lost both of them by a total of five points.

“Scott Walsh had never played in a grand final and he breaks his leg in the first 30 seconds of the game.

“But we can’t think that we’ve been hard done by. 

“These things happen in footy and we have to move on from it.”

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