WINNING your way through to the Grand Final is the culmination of a season of considerable progress, but by no means does it mean the job is done. Even though the body is hurting and the mind is tired, a special type of effort is required to get your team over the line.
For some Subiaco and Swan Districts players, Sunday presented a perfect opportunity to taste the ultimate success as they prepare for their potential senior AFL careers.
Read below for all the details on who became the 2018 Premiers.
WAFL Colts Grand Final wrap
Subiaco 9.10 (64) defeated Swan Districts 9.8 (62)
Subiaco have won their first WAFL Colts grand final in 29 years after claiming a thrilling two-point win over Swan Districts in a captivating contest at Optus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Subiaco came into the contest with confidence on a sky high level after recording twelve straight wins, and were fresh after having the week off following their major semi final win. Swan Districts did not have that luxury, but came in as battle hardened after defeating Peel Thunder twice in this finals series. So the big question was whether Subiaco would keep up that momentum to the final game of the season or if Swan Districts had saved their best performance until last.
Just like their game two weeks ago Swan Districts dominated the early stages of the contest but could not make the most of their opportunities. Subiaco made them pay for their wastefulness with Mitchell Georgiades converting from 45 metres and soon after, Jake McKinnon was in the right spot to goal from a acute angle to give Subiaco the perfect start.
However, some ill-discipline by McKinnon gave Riley Garcia a gift which he duly accepted converting from 15 metres to put Swan Districts on the board. Rebounding defender Joe Hinder then put Swans right back into the contest when he converted from another 50 metre penalty.
It was a fascinating opening term with Swans amassing more than double the inside 50s of Subiaco (17-8) but still trailed by three points. In truth, the two late goals by Garcia and Hinder was what they deserved for their hard work.
Swans started the second quarter with some real purpose courtesy of Atem Deng who set up Jarrod Cameron. The exciting small forward kicked truly to put the underdogs in front for the first time in the contest. Cameron had another chance to extend the lead soon after but missed to the near side.
The overworked Subiaco defence were doing a fine job of keeping their side well and truly in the contest. Their hard work was rewarded at the other end of the ground when Jack Mayo who to that point of time had been well held by Jake Pasini, kicked truly to give the Lions their first goal in over a quarter.
Subiaco looked to have seized some momentum back when Nicolas Martin marked and goaled from close range to give the Lions a seven point lead. Turnovers were now creeping into the play of Swan Districts which would have been a concern to their coaching staff.
Subiaco now sensed a opportunity to take control of the contest when Martin kicked his second for the term and the Lions now had their biggest lead of the game. Needing to respond quickly, some good teamwork by the Black and Whites ended with Deng scoring his first goal from close range which was vital just before the half time interval.
A nine point lead to the Lions only told half the story of a fascinating 50 minutes of action. Swan Districts had 14 more inside 50s (30-16), but lacked a true focal point that Subiaco had with Mayo and French at their disposal.
The key movers for Subiaco were starting to get their hands on the ball with Tristan Hobley (11 disposals), Liam Hickmott and Luke Foley each having ten disposals. Meanwhile Riley Garcia and Mitchell Bain led the way for Swans with 11 and 10 disposals respectively.
Deng gave the black and whites the best possible start to the third quarter with his second major which cut the margin to two points. Once again the pattern of Swans’ amassing a swathe of inside 50s without getting full reward for their efforts looked to be continuing. Martin punished the profligacy of their opponents with a soccer goal and not long after, a pin-point kick by Hobley found Wil Hickmott on the chest and he converted to push the lead out to 12 points once again
A impressive piece of ball movement down the outer wing by Swan Districts saw Patrick Farrant kick truly from 45 metres. Subiaco led by a goal heading into the last change, but this was as close as Swan Districts had been in their four previous meetings in 2018 and were aware that a strong final 25 minutes would give them the flag.
Swans got off to the best possible start when a centre clearance by Cameron set up Farrant who kicked his second. The underdogs were now swarming all over Subiaco and a opportunistic pick-up and goal by Cameron extended their lead to seven points.
With Subiaco needing a goal, it was the key figure of Mayo who stepped up to the plate when his team needed him the most. Nathan French then snapped truly from close range to give us the third lead change of a absorbing fourth term. A frenetic passage of play in the Swans’ forward line caused a collision between Farrant and Cameron which saw the latter taken off with the blood rule at the most inopportune time. It was now end to end action with both teams putting their bodies well and truly on the line.
The calming presence of the likes of Luke Foley and Hobley were proving influential in such a tight contest. Deng missed what looked like Swans’ final chance, but from the resulting kickout Mitchell Bain converted truly with a superb kick from the boundary line.
In grand finals players are remembered for certain acts. It may not always fit the definition of spectacular in the true essence of the word, but its importance cannot be disputed. Subiaco pair Jake McKinnon and Jack Mayo produced such acts in the final few minutes.
With Swan Districts storming out of the the middle and looking to produce another forward 50 entry, McKinnon produced a smother which stopped the Black and Whites in their tracks. Then with Swans looking to clear the ball from their defensive 50 to produce one last scoring thrust, Mayo took a vital mark on the wing and was smart enough to hold onto the ball for his allotted time. Time ticked down and with the final siren came wild celebrations all over the ground for the Subiaco players as their long premiership drought was over.
In contrast, the disappointment on the faces of the Swans players was evident for all to see as they had put absolutely everything into winning a premiership and came incredibly close to doing so. It might be a empty feeling at this point of time, but coach Greg Harding will know that he has a special group of players and they will be heavily favoured to go one better in 2019. Meanwhile, Lions coach Beau Wardman has done a fine job in harnessing the best out of a team which has had a great deal of talent over the years but has underachieved at this level.
It was a game completely befitting of a grand final with no question asked for and none given. Players threw their bodies around like no tomorrow and there will be certainly some sore bodies feeling the effects of a brutal contest.
Not a lot separated the teams in most of the major categories apart from inside 50s which Swan Districts dominated 52-36. That will undoubtedly be a statistic that Swans will rue until they have the opportunity to make amends.
Hobley did his draft prospects a power of good winning the Mel Whinnen Medal for best man on the ground with the midfielder amassing 28 disposals and eight tackles. Foley produced a number of clutch moments in the vital final term finishing with 22 disposals, seven marks and six tackles while the tenacious effort of McKinnon was superb with 23 disposals and eight marks.
For Swan Districts, Deng provided a real spark every time he got his hands on the ball and finished with 18 disposals, four marks four tackles and two goals. Farrant may have been wasteful with the ball in the first half, but he produced some very important moments in the second half and finished with 14 disposals, six marks and two key goals. Bain was the leading possession getter on the day for Swan Districts with 24 disposals and eight tackles.
For many of these youngsters, the attention now switches to the draft combines and the team at AFL Draft Central wishes them all the very best for their future careers.