Monday, 3rd September, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
The South Roos completed a perfect season after coming away with the win over North on Saturday in an absorbing contest befitting of a grand final.
South were the clear favourites coming into the game having gone 15-0 in the regular season with an average winning margin of 78.6 points. Only twice had they won by fewer than 50 points - once to Central in round five by 44 and to North in round 13 by 22.
But as is often the case, anything can happen on grand final day and it almost did as North produced a fantastic effort to give the Roos an almighty fright.
It was a hotly contested opening term with both sides struggling to settle in front of a large crowd.
There was plenty of pushing and shoving early but South were first to hit the scoreboard through Mitch Henderson who pounced on a turnover in North’s defensive fifty.
Despite giving up the first goal, North ended up getting the better of South in the first term, mainly due to South missing a number of gettable chances in front of goal.
The Bulldogs hit the scoreboard with goals to skipper Codie Howard and Zach Doyle to lead by four points at quarter time.
This was a far cry from 12 months ago when North trailed by 20 points at the first break despite kicking with a four-to-five goal breeze. Conditions on Saturday were much more sedate with a slight breeze blowing towards the brewery wing of the Jubilee Oval.
North came out firing after quarter-time with Lionel Johnston medallist Jayden Kelly kicking his first major of the day to extend their lead but it was then South who took control.
Cody Schorn started their run with a goal from long range and had his second shortly after but some ill-discipline from North, as well as some soft fifty-metre penalties, allowed both Luke Lines and Wade Gepp to add their names to the goal kickers list.
The Roos only led by 12 points but you had the feeling they could run away with the game until Josh Jones marked and kicked a desperately needed goal for North before Anthony Henderson did the same and levelled the scores.
Schorn kicked his third for the term to again give his team the lead as they went into the halftime break up by six points.
Third quarters are often referred to as ‘the premiership quarter’ where games can be won and lost and that proved true on Saturday with South taking control thanks to young gun Tyler McKenzie slotting a goal from a tight angle before Schorn added two more to his tally.
Doyle added a late goal for the Dogs to keep them in it but they’d need a massive effort in the final term as they trailed by 18 points at the last change.
That task became even more difficult when Mitchell Henderson kicked truly to extend South’s lead but the Dogs continued to fight.
Luke Larkins booted his first for the day to keep North’s hopes alive and they controlled the next 10 minutes of play, locking it inside their forward fifty but couldn’t apply any scoreboard pressure due to their inaccuracy.
Once South had absorbed that pressure, they responded with goals to Todd Davidson and Drew Hardy to seal the win. Josh and Luke Jones would each kick goals towards the end but it was too little too late from the Dogs.
North will rue their missed chances early in the quarter, kicking 3.6 for the term, as South came away with a 14-point victory to claim their fourth flag in five seasons.
Cody Schorn was the star, kicking 5.3 and handing a couple off including the sealer to Davidson. His marking was superb in tricky conditions and he proved to be the difference between the sides as he won the Stan Brooks Medal for best on ground.
Hardy was fantastic in the midfield and was always able to find space to drive South into attack. Dylan Browne played an important role across centre-half back whilst also helping out in the ruck at times.
Others to impress for South was their captain Marc Purcell, midfielders Luke Lines and Jordan Johns, utility Wade Gepp and McKenzie who was given the vital kick-in role and handled it with ease well beyond his years.
Tyler McInnes and Zach Doyle were the standouts for the Bulldogs as both found plenty of the ball and used it well. Kelly had his usual impact and Matt Dempster played well in defence before being moved forward late in the game. Rhys Carman had a solid first half while Howard and Josh Jones were dangerous up forward.
This was easily the best game of the season and so it was fitting that it was the grand final. North gave it everything they had and should be proud of their effort but they were up against a very special South side who were just too good.
SOUTH: 1.4 6.6 9.8 12.9 (81) def
NORTH: 2.2 5.6 6.7 9.13 (67)
South - C. Schorn 5, M. Henderson 2, T. McKenzie, W. Gepp, L. Lines, D. Hardy
North - Z. Doyle 2, J. Jones 2, C. Howard, L. Larkins, J. Kelly, A. Henderson, L. Jones
South - C. Schorn, D. Hardy, D. Browne, M. Purcell, L. Lines, W. Gepp
North - T. McInnes, Z. Doyle, J. Kelly, M. Dempster, C. Howard, J. Jones