BRIDGEWATER has already completed the “super seven” of premiership wins.
Now the Mean Machine get their chance at the “great eight” after the Loddon Valley league powerhouse won its way through to another grand final on Saturday.
Just as they did in their previous meeting when they overhauled a 39-point margin at the long break, the Mean Machine overcame another half-time deficit to defeat Calivil United by nine points, 13.13 (91) to 12.10 (82), in the second semi-final at Newbridge.
On the back of seven premierships in a row since 2010, the Mean Machine have created an opportunity to add to their remarkable dynasty with what was their 17th-straight finals victory.
“It’s obviously fantastic for the club to get through to another grand final,” Bridgewater coach Marc Lindsay said.
“There’s plenty of new personnel who will be playing in their first senior grand final, so it’s fantastic for them that they will get an opportunity in a couple of weeks.
“It was a really physical game, which is what finals footy is all about, so the week off will do us good, it gives us a chance to freshen up and we can’t wait to hop into it in a fortnight’s time.”
The Mean Machine won the game after trailing by 15 points at half-time, and not scoring in the second quarter.
But unlike the previous week in the qualifying final against Newbridge when they lost control of the game during the third quarter, this time they used it to set up a match-winning lead.
After trailing 7.3 to 4.6 at half-time, the Mean Machine added 7.5 to 1.5 with the wind in the third quarter to build a 21-point advantage at the final change.
However, the Mean Machine were dealt a blow at three quarter-time when informed ruckman David Harrison had been reported by a goal umpire for rough conduct in a tackle against the Demons’ Sam Green during the third term.
Harrison was subsequently yellow-carded, leaving the Mean Machine one player short for 15 minutes in the final quarter.
“It was a challenge being down to 17 players during the last quarter, but full credit to the boys in the way they were able to hang on with Calivil having a spare,” Lindsay said.
The Mean Machine’s best players again focused heavily on their defence, with assistant coach Luke Harrison, Tristin Nalder and Xavier Henderson among the standouts.
Down the other end forward Alex Collins booted six goals – his seventh haul of at least five in what’s now a season tally of 76.
The Demons endured a heavy injury toll to further sour the defeat.
Green (shoulder), Henry Miller (ribs) and Brodie Fraser (shoulder) all suffered game-ending injuries during the third quarter.
“Playing three short for the last quarter-and-a-half obviously wasn’t ideal. But we don’t want to make any excuses, we just couldn’t get over the line,” Calivil United coach Anthony Dennis said.
“We’ve worked hard all year to give ourselves a second chance and we now have to do it the hard way.
“It would have been nice to be able to get through to the grand final today, but we have to regroup heading into next week and have another crack, hopefully, with a couple of players back.”
The Demons’ best player was Luke Marchesi (two goals) playing through the midfield and up forward.
On-baller Lachlan McAllister and Jordan Lea, who had the defensive job on Ben Galea (one goal), were also impressive for the Demons in what was only their second loss of the season.
Bryce Curnow (five) and Vincent Rodi (three) combined to kick eight of the Demons’ 12 goals.
Calivil United hopes to regain Matt Magee and Alex Davis for the preliminary final against Newbridge.
Meanwhile, Calivil United’s reserves and Maiden Gully YCW Eagles’ under-18 teams are also through to the grand final.
In a precursor to the senior match between the same clubs, the Demons defeated Bridgewater 7.5 (47) to 4.7 (31) in the reserves to continue their unbeaten season.
In the under-18s, the Eagles have set up a shot at back-to-back flags after accounting for Pyramid Hill 11.3 (69) to 6.5 (41).