TERANG Mortlake pulled off a spirited comeback to defeat South Warrnambool in the Hampden league reserves football grand final last Saturday.
The Bloods, who trailed by 17 points halfway through the last term, rallied late and kicked four unanswered goals to win 13.11 (89) to 12.9 (81).
Bloods co-coach Todd Robertson, who spent most of the game on the sidelines after being injured early in the second quarter, said he had all but conceded defeat with time slowly running out in the final term.
Even more impressive was the fact that Terang Mortlake was the walking wounded, with Robertson joined on the sidelines by Tommy Moloney, plus a number of players were carrying injuries on the ground.
“I thought we were down and out being 17 points down at the 12 minute mark,” Robertson said.
“I said to Dave Conheady we need to win this clearance, otherwise we are stuffed.
“We lost that clearance and then turned the footy over in South’s forward line and then we slungshot it forward and kicked our first goal and then went bang, bang, bang to win.”
The opening three quarters of the match were some of the best reserves footy played for the season, with the sides trading blows as neither could seize total control of the game.
The Roosters held a five point lead at quarter time, but Robertson lamented his side’s first term, before they recovered to level the scores at the main break.
“We didn’t capitalise on our opportunities early in the first quarter, we probably had 80 per cent of the ball but didn’t put it on the scoreboard,” he said.
Five goals to four the way of South in the third quarter saw the Roosters hold a four point advantage at the final change, which had blown out to 17 points after they kicked the first two goals of the last term.
However, the momentum of the game changed when Matt Arundell kicked the Bloods’ first of the quarter and followed up with his third of the match a minute later to reduce the margin to five points.
The Bloods soon found themselves in front when Nathan Sargeant took a screamer in the goal square and converted his shot, before Jake Meade kicked the sealer to hand the Bloods a memorable eight-point victory.
“Once the siren went it was kind of a bit of relief,” Robertson said.
“Relief because the hard work’s paid off but it was also pure excitement for the young ones.”
Robertson credited South for their performance across the first three terms and said the defensive efforts of both teams was “fantastic”.
“South probably had the better of us for three quarters and the game didn’t really open up for our style of footy until halfway into the last quarter,” he said.
“It was played between the two fifties, but it was quick football and South’s back line was fantastic, as was ours.”
Arundell finished with best on ground honours and won the medal for his three goal performance in the ruck, while Will Moloney was influential at half-back.
In the midfield, Meade, Mitch Carlin and Gus Bourke all played key roles, while Jake Crawley was important splitting his time in the ruck and up forward.
Robertson said the Bloods’ premiership, their sixth since merging and second in four years, was a great reward for the entire club.
He said the rooms were filled with supporters and volunteers on Saturday, all wanting to congratulate the players on their achievement.
“It was fantastic (to win for them),” he said.
“As I said (last week) we were happy to give a little bit back because there are a lot of people who put in a lot of hard work to give us the privilege to play in a premiership.
“It was great to see all the excitement and joy on people’s faces after the game on Saturday.”