EAGLEHAWK marked another Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League premiership after Saturday’s stunning seniors grand final victory against Strathfieldsaye Storm.
The Hawks put on a final-quarter blitz to score a 19.8 (122) to 11.7 (73) win the battle for the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Chasing back-to-back premierships, Storm was right in the contest halfway through the third quarter.
Strathfieldsaye had fought back from double digit deficits many times, but could not stop the Two Blues charge in the final term.
The Hawks fans cheered on some miraculous pieces of play as their team kicked six unanswered goals to end up 49 point victors and the Bendigo FNL senior champions for the 27th time.
Eaglehawk is in hot pursuit of Sandhurst’s league record of 28 senior grand final wins.
Hawks’ playing coach Josh Bowe said there were many outstanding performers in the grand final and the run to premiership glory.
Sheer determination by Jonty Neaves to even take to the field for the grand final inspired his team-mates.
The talented ruckman put aside the pain from a dislocated elbow and broken arm to earn the Nalder Medal as best afield.
There were plenty of contenders for the AFL Victoria Medal which was awarded to Hawks’ vice-captain and key midfielder Brodie Collins.
Sean Williams capped a superb finals series with a game-high five goals as Brenton Conforti, Ben McPhee and Riley Saunders added two each.
Just as it had done in many matches, Eaglehawk had plenty of goalkickers.
Brodie Collins, Jack Fallon, Sam Harper, Shaun Knott, Riley McIvor, Tyler Miles, Jonty Neaves and Dillon Williams all added one apiece.
Storm’s attack was led by Sam Heavyside and Fergus Payne on three goals as Lachlan Wallace chipped in with two.
Strathfieldsaye coach Troy Coates, Jayden Donaldson and Hunter Lawrence added one apiece.
There were many outstanding performers for the Hawks.
Bowe racked up plenty of possessions and the pressure he applied to opponents forced several turnovers.
The versatile Joel Mullen, tough on-baller or half-forward Ben McPhee, and young gun Oscar Madden were among Eaglehawk’s best.
Strathfieldsaye’s best were on-baller Sam Heavyside, Shannon Geary across half-back, key forward Hugh Robertson, Hunter Lawrence, Troy Coates and captain Kallen Geary.
In a 138-year history there have been many chapters in Eaglehawk’s story.
From the presentation dais, victorious coach Josh Bowe spoke about the efforts of players such as Jonty Neaves, Glenn Daly, Sam Thompson and Tim Hill to fight back from setbacks.
“Jonty Neaves put in a massive effort,” Bowe said of a rising star who at one stage looked unlikely to play on grand final day.”
In a season where he marked his 250th match for the club, Daly played a pivotal role across half-back for a tight-knit defence.
“Sam Thompson made his way back from a knee injury and played a great game against Troy Coates.”
Hawks’ captain Tim Hill was on the sidelines for a lot of the year because of injury, but again showed how valuable he is to the line-up.
The Borough will now prepare for the challenge of back-to-back premierships, a feat it achieved in 2007 and ’08.
Although bitterly disappointed not to have won a fourth premiership and second in a row, Storm showed all year it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Long-term injuries to several stars tested Strathfieldsaye’s depth all year.
Defeated just four times in 20 matches, three of Storm’s defeats were to the Borough.
Eaglehawk’s premiership-winning stars:
Lachlan Atherton, Josh Bowe, Brodie Collins, Jesse Collins, Brenton Conforti, Glenn Daly, Jack Fallon, Sam Harper, Tim Hill, Gedd Hommelhoff, Shaun Knott, Oscar Madden, Cam McGlashan, Riley McIvor, Ben McPhee, Tyler Miles, Joel Mullen, Jonty Neaves, Riley Saunders, Sam Thompson, Dillon Williams and Sean Williams.