STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm won the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup for a fourth time as it defeated Eaglehawk by three goals in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy grand final on Saturday.
The Storm and Hawks played out a classic contest at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
On an afternoon marked strong by a strong breeze and the occasional shower, Storm stood up to the challenge thrown by the Hawks to win 14.10 (94) to 10.20 (80).
The Hawks would rue wayward kicking at goal against a line-up that was more efficient in attack.
The grand final victory capped an “almost perfect” season for Storm.
Strathfieldsaye’s only defeat in the home and away series was a three-goal loss on Eaglehawk’s turf at Canterbury Park in the 10th round.
An unbeaten run from then on included the 72-point victory against the Hawks in the second semi.
Storm had the breeze at the backs as it kicked to the city end in the first quarter of the grand final.
A superb goal from Strathfieldsaye coach Troy Coates from a tight angle in the Rifle Brigade Hotel pocket made it 7-0 in the fourth minute.
A minute later and Storm was rocked when gun onballer Sam Heayvside injured his right shoulder and was off the field.
Heavyside had the AC taped up and went back on, but his match was over soon after.
Josh Formosa’s strong attack to win the footy was capped by a running goal by Hunter Lawrence after a handpass from Shannon Geary as Storm led 13-2 in the 10th minute.
A set-shot from centre half-forward Hugh Robertson near the 50m arc sailed through as Storm led 20-2 by the 16-minute mark.
When Coates was freed and goaled, Storm led 27-3 by the quarter-time siren.
The Hawks then had the breeze and were quick to score.
Shaun Knott’s snap from a boundary throw-in brought up Eaglehawk’s goal in the first minute of the term.
A right-foot snap from the classy Bailey Henderson from the pocket made it 35-9.
It was then the brilliant Brodie Filo who kicked one of the goals of the day.
From a centre ball-up, Filo won possession, sprinted clear of rivals and then unleashed a kick from near the 60m mark for the Hawks’ second of the contest.
Knott’s strength won out as he gained front position in a marking contest and goaled to make it 35-23 in the 10th minute.
Robertson’s second goal was followed by Jesse Collins being on target.
The Hawks peppered the goal but a string of points followed.
Goals by Lachlan Sharp and Robertson gave Storm an 18-point buffer by half-time.
The Borough made a brilliant start to the second half when Knott was end of a Filo pass to boot his third goal in the third minute.
Storm replied quickly through a soccered goal by Bryce Curnow.
Eaglehawk kept the pressure on when Riley Saunders was on target.
A chase and tackle by Riley McIvor to stop Storm captain Kallen Geary was team-lifting for the Hawks.
Just a few minutes later it was Kallen Geary who goaled on the run for Storm to lead 67-49 in the 16th minute.
The Storm finished the quarter full of run and added three more goals for a 86-51 lead going into the final term of the season.
Goals by Cam McGlashan, Knott and Sean Williams by the 10th minute lifted the Borough’s hopes.
When Ben McPhee roved the pack and snapped a right-foot goal the Hawks were within 10 points by the 15-minute mark.
Storm was under intense pressure, but responded in style.
One of his team’s best in the second semi-final, Harry Conway had not had a major influence in the grand final.
In the 17th minute of the contest, Conway marked a pass from Josh Formosa on the swimming pool flank.
Conway coolly slotted what would be the final goal of the game in the 17th minute.
The best on ground medals went to two of Storm’s best all season.
Bryce Curnow’s versatility is a massive bonus for Strathfieldsaye.
In defence or attack, Curnow’s ability to take contested marks or use a timely fist to spoil was again to the fore in the grand final and earned the Nalder Medal.
Kallen Geary’s non-stop run and skill through the middle of the ground or across half-forward set up many of Storm’s attacks.
He earned the AFL Victoria Country medal and then later quietly announced his retirement as a player.
Others to play key roles in the victory were tough onballer Josh Formosa, Coates, Kellan Smith and Bailey Henderson.
Storm had many celebrate their first seniors grand final wins, but the talented trio of Shannon Geary, Kellan Smith and Lachlan Sharp join an elite club as “four time” premiership players.
Eaglehawk’s best was Brodie Filo who kept racking up possessions and used his precise kicking, short or long to telling effect.
Just as he had done in round 10, Oscar Madden played another brilliant game at full-back against Sharp who went into the match on a season tally of 131 goals.
Jesse Collins, Shaun Knott, Jack Fallon and Clayton Holmes also starred for the Two Blues.
Seniors grand final scoreboard:
Strathfieldsaye 4.4 8.6 13.8 14.10 (94)
Eaglehawk 0.3 4.12 6.15 10.20 (80)
GOALS – Strathfieldsaye: Troy Coates, Hugh Robertson 3, Lachlan Sharp 2, Harry Conway, Bryce Curnow, Kallen Geary, Bailey Henderson, Hunter Lawrence, William Wallace. Eaglehawk: Shaun Knott 4, Jesse Collins, Brodie Filo, Cam McGlashan, Ben McPhee, Riley Saunders, Sean Williams.
BEST – Strathfieldsaye: Bryce Curnow, Kallen Geary, Josh Formosa, Troy Coates, Kellan Smith, Bailey Henderson. Eaglehawk: Brodie Filo, Oscar Madden, Jesse Collins, Shaun Knott, Jack Fallon, Clayton Holmes.
Nalder Medal: Bryce Curnow, Strathfieldsaye.
Worksafe AFL Country Victoria Medal: Kallen Geary, Strathfieldsaye.
The premiership-winning stars from Strathfieldsaye Storm:
Troy Coates, Harry Conway, Bryce Curnow, Vin Flood, Josh Formosa, Kallen Geary, Shannon Geary, Lachlan Gill, Sam Heavyside, Bailey Henderson, Hunter Lawrence, Ben Lester, Jake Moorhead, Jack Neylon, Fergus Payne, Lachlan Ratcliffe, Hugh Robertson, Lachlan Sharp, Caleb Sheahan, Kellan Smith, Lachlan Wallace, William Wallace,
Coach: Troy Coates.