Bulldog delight

SALE City defeated Yarram 14.16 (100) to 5.11 (41) to claim back-to-back North Gippsland football premierships.

In muddy conditions at Traralgon, with a south-westerly breeze cutting across the ground, the Bulldogs' relentless tackling allowed their stellar midfield to capitalise on the barest Yarram errors.

That's not to say Yarram didn't fight hard, though inaccurate shots at goal cost the Demons early.

Sale City's Matt Ferguson kicked the first of his two goals barely two minutes in, before Yarram finally replied through Carson Strobel.

Much of the play seemed to be up Yarram's end in the first term, perhaps helped by the wind, but the Bulldogs quickly pounced on any turnover, pulling ahead by 17 points at quarter-time.

Yarram seemed to struggle in the contests, and its forwards were unable to find the goal posts, while up the other end, Sale City was firing off shots from the goal square.

The Demons added just two behinds in the second term, as Sale City ran rampant, leading 7.9 (51) to 1.5 (11).

To cheers from the strong Yarram contingent around the ground, the Demons seem to be let off the leash midway through the third after kicking two goals, and after scoring again early in the fourth, the Demons were just four goals away from a miraculous comeback victory.

Sale City woke up in the fourth to furiously push through and pile on 5.2, including a sneaky soccer kick at goal from best-on-ground Tom Wilson.

Yarram, becoming frustrated, needed more accurate goal kickers, with several shots not even making it to the posts, allowing Sale City's defence to use the wind to clear the ball out quickly.

Several flare-ups were spotted as time began running out, with the hard tackling Rowan Bell and Beau Bennett dodging punches.

Yarram's rookie players stood out, Jake McFarland and Liam Farley pulling double duty after winning the thirds grand final earlier that morning. McFarland in particular did well, tackling players three times his size in the midfield and causing a nuisance.

Bohdi Walker's aerial skills were on show for Sale City, taking strong marks to help out his fellow forwards, and seizing the initiative when Yarram shanked a kick-in to score from the goal square.

League best-and-fairest Griffin Underwood, named Yarram's best, seemed to be everywhere, supporting defenders before breaking out of the centre square then kicking goals, finishing with two for the day.

Bulldog co-captain Jake Schuback excelled in the midfield, pushing forward to boot three goals, as did coach David Piasente.

The redoubtable Stuart Buckley, helped off the ground early in the match, also kicked a goal, as did Bell and co-captain Ben Chivers, who enjoyed moving out of defence on the day.

Sale City's Justin McLay stood-out in defence, as did Chris Kelf in the ruck, and Mitch Evans.

Yarram's stand-outs included David Coulthard and Chris Bruns, who played well at half-back, Jake Anderson, Tyler Chisholm, and Jack Moore.

Sale City coach David Piasente, in his final match as a player, said he was proud of his boys, who stuck to the plan and held their nerve.

"Leading into the game, we really wanted to get off to a good start and mount up the pressure to Yarram, hopefully they wouldn't get good looks inside 50," he said.

"Going into the second quarter, we had our tails up and we were just surging it forward and kicking goals.

"I felt like we were getting first into the footy, giving our good players the footy in their hands."

Co-captain Ben Chivers added it was good to see his team tackling so well.

"Yarram pride themselves on their contested footy and we just had to match them to a man, I think by quarter time we had 40 tackles and by half time we had an extra 36 in the second," he said.

"Ten years ago when I first started, we didn't have many behind us, and a good group of kids just banded together and we added in some top-end talent and been able to be successful for a bit now.

"Hopefully we can continue to develop that."

Gippsland Senior
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