STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm capped an unbeaten run to the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s reserves footy premiership on Saturday.
Storm withstood a spirited challenge from South Bendigo to win by 31 points at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
A side stacked with senior premiership-winning experience and many talented youngsters was too strong for a Bloods’ line-up which made a brilliant run from the elimination final to earn a crack at the ultimate prize.
South Bendigo goaled before the one-minute mark of the contest after a free-kick and 50m penalty was awarded to Josh McLeod.
From there it was Storm, especially onballer Jordan Formosa, Caillum Brady, Riley Wilson and captain James Blood who set up many attacks.
Storm capitalised on first use of the breeze to the city end goal and led 26-6 at the first break.
Among the many key match-ups was in the ruck where Storm had Harry Crone, 197cm and 105kg, opposed to Aidan Brohm.
Although he conceded height and weight, Brohm competed well against one of Storm’s most valuable players.
Accuracy of both teams was a highlight in the first half.
Storm and South scored three goals apiece in the second term as Strathfieldsaye led 7.2 (44) to 4.1 (25) at half-time.
The defensive pressure from the Jacob Smythe-coached Bloods lifted markedly in the third.
More importantly, South Bendigo added two goals into the breeze to be within 21 points going into the final term.
Storm had played just the one match in the finals, the second semi, and “fresher legs” became a key factor in the last 15 minutes of the game.
Strathfieldsaye added 3.1 to 1.3 in the last quarter to complete a 12.7 (79) to 7.6 (48) victory.
Storm’s attack was led by Jordan Formosa, the skilful Jack Ginnivan, and experienced Brad Rohde on three goals apiece.
In a twist of fate, Rohde had kicked a goal for South Bendigo’s reserves in the 2009 grand final victory against Gisborne.
Other goalkickers in Storm’s 20th win of the season were Caillum Brady, Jacob Coleman and Josh Martyn.
Only multiple goalkicker for the Bloods was Josh McLeod, who played for South Bendigo in the 2009 seniors grand final.
Cohen Balnaves, Zac Hare, Riley Walsh, Adam Williams and Brad Wright were also on target in Saturday’s clash.
Co-captain of this season’s senior team, Hare missed a lot of footy because of injury, but played a key role in the Bloods run to the grand final.
One of the club’s most loyal and reliable players, Brad Wright lined up at centre half-forward in Saturday’s game.
Wright was in defence when South Bendigo tackled Golden Square in the senior grand finals of 2009 and ’10.
Strathfieldsaye’s best in the grand final victory was led by James Schischka in defence, the classy Jack Ginnivan in attack or across midfield, Caillum Brady, Daniel Clohesy at half-back, Patrick Blandford and Jordan Formosa.
The R.F. Turner Medal, which honours legendary football commentator Dick Turner, was awarded to Storm’s Riley Wilson.
Bloods’ co-captain Seb Wild was his team’s best as key defender Daniel Johnstone, James Murphy, Jayden Sheean, Cohen Balnaves and Zac Hare also starred.
A great year for Storm included Josh Martyn’s tally of 62 to be the competition’s leading goalkicker.
It was another premiership win for Lachlan Bonney and Jayden Donaldson, back pocket and key defender in Storm’s senior grand final wins of 2014, ’15 and ’17.
On Saturday, Bonney played game 201 for Storm, a club record.
Although both could have sought opportunities elsewhere, Bonney and Donaldson’s loyalty to their club showed a lot about their character and what being a Storm player means to them.
Reserves grand final scoreboard:
Strathfieldsaye 4.2 7.2 9.6 12.7 (79)
South Bendigo 1.0 4.1 6.3 7.6 (48)
GOALS – Strathfieldsaye: Jordan Formosa, Jack Ginnivan, Brad Rohde 3, Caillum Brady, Jacob Coleman, Josh Martyn. South Bendigo: Josh McLeod 2, Cohen Balnaves, Zac Hare, Riley Walsh, Adam Williams, Brad Wright.
BEST – Strathfieldsaye: James Schischka, Jack Ginnivan, Caillum Brady, Daniel Clohesy, Patrick Blandford, Jordan Formosa. South Bendigo: Seb Wild, Daniel Johnstone, James Murphy, Jayden Sheean, Cohen Balnaves, Zac Hare.
R.F. Turner Medal: Riley Wilson, Strathfieldsaye.
Premiership-winning stars from Strathfieldsaye Storm:
Patrick Blandford, James Blood, Lachlan Bonney, Caillum Brady, Daniel Clohesy, Jack Coleman, Harry Crone, Jayden Donaldson, Leighton Driscoll, Jordan Formosa, Jack Ginnivan, Jacob Heavyside, Josh Martyn, Callum McCarty, Shannon Murphy, Keelan Payne, Torin Petrie, Brad Rohde, James Schisckha, Brenton Sharp, Jordan Wilson, Riley Wilson.
Coach: Shannon Geary.