WITH his redemption mission complete, Strathfieldsaye's Troy Coates will hand over the Storm coaching reins content and with a sense of pride in his side's achievement this year.
Twelve months after losing the BFNL grand final to Eaglehawk, the Storm turned the tables on the Hawks, prevailing by 14 points on Saturday, sending Coates out the same way as his predecessor Darryl Wilson in 2017 - with a premiership following the Storm's 14.10 (94) to 10.20 (80) victory.
"I'm just so ecstatic for the boys and the whole club... it's hard to put into words," Coates said.
"To go down last year and then lose Heavy (Sam Heavyside, AC Joint) five minutes into the game brought back memories of a similar situation (Bryce Curnow's 2018 grand final injury) and then the way they came at us in the last quarter... they are a quality side.
"We knew Eaglehawk was going to keep coming, but our boys had something to prove today to not only ourselves and supporters, but also the league that we could stand up on the big stage."
The Storm kicked the opening four goals of the game with the breeze to the city end in the first quarter and later looked well in control at three quarter-time when they led by 35 points.
Our boys had something to prove today to not only ourselves and supporters, but also the league that we could stand up on the big stageTroy Coates - Strathfieldsaye coach
However, the Hawks mounted a furious last quarter surge and with four unanswered goals were back within 10 points and the question was being asked of could the Storm hold on?
But just when they needed a steadying goal, Harry Conway seized the moment.
Firstly when he clunked an impressive contested mark at full pace on the lead, and then when he went back and from 45m on the swimming pool flank nailed the set shot.
Conway's goal at the 17-minute mark of the final term handed the Storm back a 16-point advantage, and while there would be still another 15 minutes to play, it proved the final goal of the grand final.
"That was into a stiff breeze, he kicked it from nearly 50 at a time when Eaglehawk was within 10 points and had all the momentum," said Coates, who himself kicked three goals.
"It was not only the goal, but the mark he took as well under pressure... grand finals are all about moments and without doubt that was one of the biggest moments of the day."
The Nalder Medal was won by Strathfieldsaye's Bryce Curnow, who played both forward and back throughout the game.
"That's the best thing about him... it's so hard to work out which end is best for him. Not only is he dangerous forward, but when he's in the backline he goes to a guy like Shaun Knott and doesn't get beaten," Coates said.
"He reads the ball so well, he takes marks, he's smart with his ball use and really steadies things for us. He was huge at both ends for us."
The AFL Victoria Medal went to Storm skipper Kallen Geary, who ignited Strathfieldsaye through the midfield and across half-forward, oozed class and kicked a third-quarter goal.
"Kal's work-rate is just unbelievable. I would love to have had a tracker on him today because he's probably run about 15 kms," Coates said.
"We changed him during the year to a midfield/forward role, which doesn't allow the opposition to drag him deep into the backline and he was just so dangerous for us... great game today."
Coates announced last month that he would be standing down after two seasons as coach of the Storm, with the looming birth of he and wife Danielle's first child in February to now become his primary focus.
Coates finishes up as Storm coach with a 36-5 record from 41 games and unsure what his playing future holds in store for next year.
"I was so nervous going into today because you want to finish on a high note... I couldn't have scripted it any better," said Coates, who is now a premiership coach at both the Storm and Kerang.
The Storm now have four senior flags in just 11 seasons in the competition.
STRATHFIELDSAYE'S 2019 PREMIERSHIP TEAM
Flags won in brackets
3 - Troy Coates (1)
9 - Harry Conway (3)
42 - Bryce Curnow (1)
15 - Vinnie Flood (2)
23 - Josh Formosa (2)
14 - Kallen Geary (3)
12 - Shannon Geary (4)
27 - Lachlan Gill (1)
7 - Sam Heavyside (2)
5 - Bailey Henderson (1)
4 - Hunter Lawrence (1)
11 - Ben Lester (2)
10 - Jake Moorhead (2)
13 - Jack Neylon (2)
30 - Fergus Payne (3)
20 - Lachlan Ratcliffe (1)
19 - Hugh Robertson (1)
8 - Lachlan Sharp (4)
17 - Caleb Sheahan (1)
37 - Kellan Smith (4)
2 - Lachlan Wallace (2)
32 - William Wallace (1)
Strathfieldsaye 4.4, 8.6, 13.8, 14.10 (94)
Eaglehawk 0.3, 4.12, 6.15, 10.20 (80)
GOALS - Strathfieldsaye: Hugh Robertson 3, Troy Coates 3, Lachlan Sharp 2, Harry Conway 1, Kallen Geary 1, Hunter Lawrence 1, William Wallace 1, Bryce Curnow 1, Bailey Henderson 1. Eaglehawk: Shaun Knott 4, Jesse Collins 1, Brodie Filo 1, Cameron McGlashan 1, Riley Saunders 1, Sean Williams 1,Ben McPhee 1.
BEST - Strathfieldsaye: Bryce Curnow, Kallen Geary, Joshua Formosa, Troy Coates, Kellan Smith, Bailey Henderson. Eaglehawk: Brodie Filo, Oscar Madden, Jesse Collins, Shaun Knott, Jack Fallon, Clayton Holmes.
GRAND FINAL IN A NUTSHELL
Just as they had done in their previous three meetings this year, the Storm jumped the Hawks. Strathfieldsaye kicked the only four goals of the first term with the breeze to the city end.
Inside 50s - Storm 18; Hawks 12.
Quarter-time - Storm leads 4.4 (28) to 0.3 (3).
Was a tale of missed opportunities for the Hawks. They kicked 4.9 from their 18 inside 50s; the Storm added 4.2 from their 11, including the last two goals of the quarter through Lachlan Sharp and Hugh Robertson to regain some breathing space after the Hawks had cut a 29-point deficit at the six-minute mark back to just three 12 minutes later.
Inside 50s - Storm 11; Hawks 18.
Half-time - Storm leads 8.6 (54) to 4.12 (36).
A five-goal to two term for the Storm, with four of their goals coming in the last 16 minutes of the quarter. That strong finish turned what had been a 12-point lead midway through the term into a 35-point buffer at the final change.
Inside 50s - Storm 13; Hawks 16.
Three quarter-time - Storm leads 13.8 (86) to 6.15 (51).
The Hawks booted four goals in the first 15 minutes and closed to within 10 points. But that would be as close as they got after a Harry Conway goal for the Storm snuffed out the Hawks' challenge.
Inside 50s - Storm 8; Hawks 14.
Final siren - Storm wins 14.10 (94) to 10.20 (80).
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