A SEVEN goal haul to exciting small forward Gryan Miers has inspired Geelong Falcons to its third premiership since its inception, with a remarkable two-point win over Sandringham Dragons.
It looked like it almost was not to be with Sandringham’s Joel Amartey taking a huge contested mark with just 18 seconds remaining, forced to take his shot after the siren. From just 15m out on a slight angle, Amartey missed the shot and the Falcons rejoiced as the Dragons’ ruckman was consoled by his teammates.
The match itself had more twists and turns than one would care to believe. Geelong Falcons booted the first three goals of the game, with Miers slotting two in quick succession. A goal to small forward Aaron Trusler broke the drought, before the Dragons added two more before quarter time to draw within three points at the first break.
A six goals to two second term in favour of the Dragons had many believing the reigning premiers were primed to go back-to-back, holding a 20-point lead at half-time. But before anyone had blinked, the lead had evaporated with the Dragons seemingly gone missing at half-time, failing to score in the third quarter as the Falcons booted eight goals – four to Miers – to lead by what seemed to be a match-winning five-goal lead at the final break.
But if anyone thought the Dragons were just going to lie down in the last quarter, they were sorely mistaken. Sandringham booted an inaccurate and inevitably costly 4.6, with the sixth behind coming off Amartey’s boot for the last kick of the day. One had to feel for Amartey, who was one of the Dragons’ best in the loss, picking up 11 disposals, 27 hitouts, six tackles, four inside 50s and one goal.
For the Falcons, Miers was the clear standout as he had 16 disposals and three marks to go with his seven goals, while bottom-age prospect Sam Walsh racked up 29 disposals, four marks, five clearances and seven inside 50s, and Cassidy Parish had 27 disposals, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s. Others to impress were Adam Garner who had 17 disposals, five marks and booted a goal, and Ed McHenry who racked up 19 disposals, two marks and four inside 50s.
For the Dragons, Bailey Smith was terrific offensively, even though he was opposed to Miers for the majority of the first and third terms. Smith collected a team-high 25 disposals, four marks, five rebounds, two inside 50s and laid six tackles. Other Dragons to stand up were Geordie Nagle (24 disposals, 10 marks, five rebounds), Charlie Constable coming back from injury had 23 disposals, six marks and two goals playing a large proportion of the match forward, and Will Walker, who had 19 disposals, three marks, six clearances and two goals. Kai Owens was almost the best of the lot for his clutch performance in the fourth quarter, booting three goals to almost haul the Dragons over the line.
The game was a fitting end to a wonderful TAC Cup season, and it was clear the two best sides of 2017 fought it out on the grandest of stages. For many, it was their last game in their respective team colours, with futures at AFL, VFL or local level to begin from next year. For others, such as Walsh, McHenry and Smith, they will all be back and their performances in the grand final will not have gone unnoticed for the 2018 draft.
Geelong Falcons 3.4 5.7 13.9 13.11 (89)
Sandringham Dragons 3.1 9.3 9.3 13.9 (87)
GEELONG: Miers 7, Garner, Worpel, Chafer, Noble, Handley, McCartin.
SANDRINGHAM: Owens 3, Constable 2, Walker 2, H. Brayshaw, Jarnestrom, McLean, Amartey, Trusler, M. King.
GEELONG: Miers, McHenry, Chafer, Walsh, Hollenkamp, Conway
SANDRINGHAM: Amartey, A.Brayshaw, Constable, Walker, McLean, Owens