Saints reign supreme in Heathcote District Football League grand final clash with Lockington-Bamawm

THE Heathcote team of 2010 will go down in Heathcote District Football League history as one of the all-time greats after it completed the perfect season on Saturday.The Saints put the finishing touch to their season of brilliance by defeating Lockington-Bamawm United by 17 points in the grand final at Colbinabbin.The Saints overcame a slow start to win 8.8 (56) to 5.9 (39) in horrendous conditions.The hard-fought victory means the Saints have ended the season with 18 wins from 18 games, and back-to-back premierships for the first time in the club’s history.However, early it looked as though the Saints could stumble at the final hurdle after the Cats had dominated the first quarter.With the ground a boggy mess and persistent rain falling, the tone of the game was set from the outset.Within 10 minutes of the game getting under way there had already been 16 ball-ups around the ground and boundary throw-ins as packs constantly formed around the ball.Clearly, this was a day where goals were going to be at a premium, unlike the past four HDFL grand finals in which 30, 28, 38 and 32 goals had been kicked.The Cats made all the running in the first term as they kicked with the breeze to the clubrooms end.The Cats kicked three behinds from their first three scoring shots, before the dangerous Sean Murphy registered the first goal of the match at the 12-minute mark when he snapped from a boundary throw-in.That was followed by three more goals for the quarter to the Cats through captain John Halloran, Murphy again and coach Kahl Oliver to set up a 27-point advantage for the underdogs at quarter-time, 4.3 to 0.0.The dominance of the Cats in the first term was kickstarted around the stoppages, which they won 15-3, while the inside-50 count at the first break read 13-0 in Lockington’s favour.The Cats scored first in the second term, kicking a behind to lead by 28 points, before Heathcote posted its opening score of the match, a rushed behind at the eight-minute mark.But that first score triggered the beginning of a match-changing onslaught.From the rushed behind the Cats’ Matthew Jackson played on from the kick-out, but his attempted clearing kick was smothered by the Saints’ Simon Thorsen.The ball then rebounded to Saints’ coach Brent Chapman, who goaled from 20m out to ignite his side.Chapman’s goal was followed by five more for the Saints over the remaining 22 minutes of the quarter as Marc Millard, captain Joel Condon, Chapman again, Brent Jacques and best-on-ground Tom Tobin all converted chances.All of a sudden, having trailed by 28 points eight minutes into the second term, by half-time Heathcote had all the momentum and was 13 points up, 6.5 to 4.4.The Cats pressed hard in the third quarter with the scoring end, but just as it has been all year, the Saints’ defence led superbly by Luke Bell, Anthony Mellington, Pat Jess and Daniel Carroll remained resilient against the competition’s most attacking side.Just two goals were kicked for the third quarter as the game remained a congested slog with no fluent passages of play.The Cats kicked the first goal of the quarter when 17-year-old Ben McPhee – the youngest player on the ground – nailed a 30m set-shot to bring Lockington within five points at the 10-minute mark.However, that would be as close as the Cats got as McPhee’s goal was answered soon after by Saints’ midfielder Christian Sargeant, whose left-foot snap from 20m rolled through.Sargeant’s goal – the Saints’ only score of the quarter – was the first for the match kicked at the Corop end of the ground.By three quarter-time the Saints led by 10 points, although the Cats had their chances to be closer.The Cats went inside their forward 50 11 times for the third term, but could muster just 1.3.With a 7.5 to 5.7 lead at three quarter-time the Saints were in the box seat entering the last term as they had the advantage of kicking to the scoring end.The last quarter was again one of constant stoppages – there were 32 ball-ups or boundary throw-ins during the last term – as the ball was continuously locked up in pack situations making it tough for the Cats to have the chance to kick the goals they needed to snatch the lead.Entering time-on the Saints continued to hold a 10-point lead after both teams had added two last-quarter behinds, before Heathcote landed the killer blow at the 21-minute mark through Jacques.Jacques marked 60m out from goal, but he was awarded a 50m penalty after the Cats’ Ash O’Brien had held on to him too long after the mark had been paid.From 10m out Jacques kicked his second goal to secure Heathcote’s seventh senior flag.Tempers flared late in the game with a melee deep in the Saints’ goalsquare, but the situation was brought under control by the umpires, who officiated well in trying conditions.Such were the conditions the game resembled rugby at times with the constant stoppages.By the end of the match, which lasted 118 minutes, there had been 107 ball-ups or boundary throw-ins, although only 69 of those stoppages had a clear take away by either team.The ugly conditions didn’t allow it to be a game of skill or finese, rather, it was simply a case of players from both teams trying to kick the ball as far as they could and hope it found a teammate.It was a game of wills, determination and taking chances inside 50, which ultimately, the Saints did better. It wasn’t pretty, but it was an enthralling contest.

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