By PEPPE CAVALIERI - Division 1 Seniors
DEER Park escaped an unexpected yet robust challenge from Sunshine in Saturday's Division 1 Grand Final, holding on for a three-point triumph and the club's fifth-straight premiership.
The Lions led at every change by 12-points, but were made to work incredibly hard to earn the win by a Kangaroos outfit given little to no chance in the lead-up.
Sunshine kicked the first goal of each quarter, but was unable to withstand Deer Park's minor, but significant bursts in time-on.
But kicking with the wind in the final term, the Kangaroos kicked two goals and kept the Lions to just three behinds.
Those three scores turned out to be just enough for Deer Park, as the Lions saluted their record-extending triumph, 9.12. (66) to 9.9. (63).
The Kangaroos had their chances late, but untidy ball use denied them the biggest prize. Lachie Smart endured the heartbreak of dropping a mark at full forward with just seconds on the clock. The set shot would have won the game had he marked and converted.
But a stoppage ensued and the siren followed the ball-up.
While that late chance in particular will be discussed at length, there were other moments in the final term that meant the Roos were unable to clinch what would have been a popular victory.
Deer Park was challenged like it has not been in Grand Finals for a long time, and to its credit, stood stoic against the relentless pressure.
The Lions relied heavily on their star forward trio of Jase Perkins, four goals, James Condos, three, and Kwame McHarg, two, who kicked all of their majors.
They looked dangerous all day, especially McHarg on the ground and in the air. While he was inaccurate in front of the sticks, McHarg consistently bamboozled the Sunshine defence.
Daniel Cooper was dynamic between the arcs and took countless intercept marks at half back. Max Bruin was creative, Jack Purton-Smith was inspired after being ruled out in the warm-up in the 2016 Grand Final, and Chris Stewart offered his usual brute strength in the ruck.
For the Kangaroos, Ben Dessent was superb and claimed the medal for best-afield, despite playing on the losing side. Declan Moloney and Daniel Castellano booted three goals each in what were meaningful contributions. Ben Christodoulou showed his strength and smarts in the middle, while Lachie Smart provided plenty of spark and run.
Jesse McInenny battled hard in a mountainous ruck assignment against Deer Park's Stewart and Scott Greenhough. But while it wasn't quite the climax we expected, it was certainly a fitting end to a brilliant season.
The emergence of a new challenger, but not-surprisingly, the seemingly impervious Deer Park juggernaut continues to get the job done.
Last Modified on 18/09/2017 12:15