Premierships were spread evenly in the grand final day curtain-raisers in SEFNL on Saturday with Berwick, Beaconsfield and Pakenham taking premiership-winning memories away from Holm Park Reserve.
But the story wasn’t so good for Narre Warren, whose reserves and lnder 19s suffered painful defeats after heading into their respective grand finals as favourites. Gazette Sports Editor DAVID NAGEL and photographer ROB CAREW were there to keep a track of the action.
NARRE WARREN   1.0     4.1     4.1     4.3(27)
BERWICK                3.0     3.0     4.3     5.5(35)
The curse of the unbeaten season has struck again with Narre Warren’s premiership hopes exploding in a puff of dust in a gripping grand final contest against Berwick on Saturday.
But spare a thought for the Magpies … because this was no ordinary season.
Sure they had defeated the Wickers on three occasions, but wins by three, three and one point – in very low scoring contests – gave the impression that this one would go all the way down to the wire.
Neither team had scored more than 40 points against the other heading into the big dance!
But it’s a trend that looked like changing after the Wickers gate-crashed the Magpies’ party in the early exchanges.
Nick Hillard, who would go on to claim the best-on-ground medal, snuck through the Wickers first, followed by another to Jesse Cirilus, and when crafty goal-sneak Hayden McLardy kicked a third the Wickers were out to a three-goal lead after nine minutes of play.
That opening burst – well it made all the difference in the end.
The Magpies fought back as expected – overcoming a serious knee injury to key midfielder Michael McGill – to kick the next four goals and take a seven-point lead into half time.
Liam Myatt kicked two, and Dean Scanlon another, but it was the celebrations after Rhys Dempster’s quality finish that gave the impression the Magpies were on top.
Berwick forward Jordy Andrews kicked the only goal of the third term to give the Wickers a two-point lead heading into the title decider.
The Magpies had the breeze and looked good things to take home the cup.
But Berwick refused to buckle, and an opportunistic goal to Trent Thomas gave them an eight-point lead that they would never surrender.
Coach Leigh Noonan was understandably proud of his players after the game.
“I just feel like a really proud dad at the moment, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Noonan said shortly after the siren.
“Narre has been the best team all year but you only have to beat them once and that’s what we did today. They’re a great team, and they brought the best out of us and I couldn’t be happier right now.
“We fought it out like dogs right to the very end and it all started two weeks ago, where we never gave up against them in the second semi and that’s all I could have asked for. I couldn’t be prouder of what the boys dished up today.”
Hillard was a sensational performer for the Wickers, while Nick Macente and Trent Van Hout were warriors in defence and Jake McLardy put his big-game experience to good use.
Players like Mitch Tonna, Andy Ray, Jack Wheeler and Chris Collins will be bitterly disappointed in defeat, but can be content that they gave their all for the Magpies until the bitter end.
And the final score at the end of the season – Berwick 121 v Narre Warren 120!
NARRE WARREN A     1.2     1.2     3.4     4.4(28)
BEACONSFIELD          1.1     3.7     4.7     4.10(34)
Beaconsfield has claimed its first Under 19 premiership since 2010 after the Eagles survived a dour and desperate fight for the title against Narre Warren on Saturday.
The Eagles six-point victory was built on the back of a dominant – but wasteful – second term, kicking 2.6 to 0.0 with the aid of a breeze blowing towards the netball court end of the ground.
Two goals in two minutes to Rhys Nelson and Devon Smith, midway through the second term, gave the Eagles a 17-point lead at half time. The Magpies, who defeated the Eagles by 37 points in the second semi-final, bounced back as expected, cutting the margin to nine at the final break.
A late goal to Dylan Webber gave them hope, but the harder-at-it Eagles weathered the storm to claim a well-deserved victory.
“Probably since they knocked us off two weeks ago the focus has been to attack the footy a bit harder, we were second to the ball and we needed to rectify that situation,” said proud Beaconsfield coach Luke Young.
“We’ve built a lot of trust in this group, to back our team style, and back our team-mates and there’s a huge expectation on every team member. The boys were just enormous, they’re a great group of young men and they’re set to take this club a long way.”
Young was full of praise for best on ground medal winner Jackson Drake.
“Drakey has been pretty good for us over the last six weeks,” Young said.
“We put it on him, because he was struggling to hold his place in the side, but we threw him into the ruck and he’s been enormous ever since then.”
Young then wanted to thank a few people for their support that helped win this year’s premiership.
“Yeah, it has paid off in the end; my wife has been great, my two kids, the footy club, the president Troy Robinson, Darren Hamilton in Footy Ops, Dave Entwistle for pumping up the kids each week, and it’s just been a great team effort both on and off the field.”
Drake was joined by Riley Verbi, Robbie McMillan and co-captains Scott Triffitt and Dan Coinu as best players for the Eagles while Mitchell Smith did a great job in defence. Patrick Andrews, Lachie Baker and Jake Boccari were solid contributors for the Magpies, who were chasing their first flag since 2014.
PAKENHAM         2.3     5.3     7.5     7.5(47)
OFFICER SFC      1.0     2.1     3.1     4.5(29)
Pakenham Football Club will be hoping success can breed success after the Under 19s brought home the club’s first piece of silverware since 2009 with an 18-point victory over Officer.
The Lions took control of the contest in the first half, with two first-quarter goals to sharp-shooter Brayden Carr capped off by a stunning start to the second quarter.
A quick goal to Kaine Wilcox was followed by another to Brodie Weir, and when Brady Graham toe-poked one through – at the eight-minute mark of the second term – the Lions had opened up a match-winning 27-point lead.
Wilcox iced the cake early in the third, the Lions holding off the fast-finishing Kangaroos to claim a drought-breaking premiership success.
Coach Derrick Brown, who coached Beaconsfield to an overtime loss to Berwick in last year’s grand final, said his players thoroughly deserved their reward.
“It’s been hard work, the club’s been through a lot with player movements so we’ve had a lot of young kids playing in the seniors, so it’s taken a while to get a full contingent on board, “ Brown said.
“I’m very proud of them, a lot of the boys have still got plenty of Under 19 footy left in them, so to be able to achieve something like this today is just fantastic. The boys really performed well today, and they should be proud of themselves for that.”
Brown played through a very successful era at Pakenham and hopes this can be the springboard to future glory.
“We had 11 kids at our first training session, so I spent a lot of my after-work hours visiting kids and trying to get them to play,” Brown explained.
“Pakenham is a big area and we want all the kids who live in the town to be playing at the club, and we need to start building that culture. I’m pleased for the club and hopefully we can kick forward from here.”
The shining light for the Lions was best-on-ground medal winner Jackson Berry, while Carr’s explosive start settled his side’s nerves down early. Joel Laycock was a superb contributor all day, while team leaders Jacob Beswick and Rhys Brooks stood tall when the Kangaroos made their expected late charge.
Brad Lord has done a wonderful job with his Kangaroos, who had Tyler Clark, Callum Hughes, Jack Langley and Rohan Marra fight the game out to the final siren of the season.

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