Brilliant Blues

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A BEST-on-ground performance by Brad Scott steered Rosedale to its first North Gippsland football premiership in 14 years.

Making a move into defence this season, Scott was composed and staunch, leading the back six against a formidable forward line. The centre half-back shone, putting his body on the line, sweeping across half-back and measured his kicks out of defence.

Scott was not alone in a true team effort as the Blues took command early in Saturday’s grand final against Heyfield, which was held to one goal in the first half. The Kangaroos’ inability to penetrate the Blues’ defence all but flattened their hopes, leaving the departing coach Damien Birss heartbroken for the third straight season.

The Blues claimed the premiership 12.22 (94) to 5.6 (36).

Rosedale exposed Heyfield early as it hit the scoreboard in the opening minutes through Max Bailey. The Blues stamped their intention in a fast paced passage of play in front of a crowd of 4314 spectators.

The momentum swung the way of the Blues early, and continued that way when play resumed following a 20-minute break after Adam Diamond was knocked heavily in the contest by Leigh Brown. Diamond returned to the bench in the second term to watch the rest of the match.

One man down, the Blues didn’t seem phased.

Bailey not only created headaches early by opening space in the forward line but as a tall target with the midfielders continuing to kick the ball long.

After the Kangaroos failed to capitalise on one of its rare moves forward, a kick from James Hammill found Bailey, who worked his way clear of opponent Scott Anderson. Despite his inaccuracy in front of goal, Scott Johnstone soccered through the Blues’ second goal.

Joel Dinsdale looked to get the reply for Heyfield, but his shot missed ahead of quarter-time. The Kangaroos were holding on despite the game being dictated on Rosedale’s terms.

Bailey slotted through his second major following a free kick for a strong ferocious tackle.

Heyfield opened its account through Brown moments later thanks to the work of Jesse Bedggood and James Conway, who freed defender Andrew Lambie to create some space and run into Josh Stubbe, who found Brown in the goal square.

Injuring his ankle in the contest with Brown, Rosedale defender Luke Carpenter was yet another casualty as the Blues’ bench was whittled to two rotations.

Heyfield continued to show signs of unease, an endless list of errors – kicking into the man on the mark, kicking straight to the opposition or running themselves into trouble – quickly became common place.

Rosedale’s inaccuracy in front of goal kept the door ajar for Heyfield to challenge.

The run of behinds was halted when coach Ben Macreadie roved the contest to gather the ball and run goal ward. His long direct kick hit Frazar Brouns, who goaled to extend the lead to 28 points.

Birss shook things up by moving Shaun Humphreys and Daniel Stubbe into the middle of the ground as Heyfield looked to halt the dominance of Macreadie, Dale Fleming and Jake Mowat.

Macreadie created space in his forward line by moving Bailey into the ruck, which led to Brown keeping the big man in check.

Following wayward shots for goal at either end, late term goals to Brouns and Jack Tatterson gave the Blues a seven-goal buffer at the long change.

The third term was a tighter affair on the scoreboard with Rosedale registering three majors to Heyfield’s two.

Daniel Stevens was ferocious in his attack on the ball and man as he tried to create a spark for the Kangaroos. The defender worked hard along with Lambie, Anderson, Bailey Escreet and Jesse Jackway, but each time they ran the ball from defence the link broke across the middle of the ground with the Blues rebounding the ball back into their attacking 50.

Rebounding from defence, Nic Dowse ran hard along the wing his kick setting up Brown, who kicked his second goal from close range.

Rosedale’s first major for the term came 10 minutes in through Tatterson, which was followed by another to Macreadie, who found himself left unmanned 30 metres out from goal. Luke Stuckey then chimed in with his first goal as the Blues ran rampant.

Josh Stubbe’s handpass to Brown in the goal square marked the Kangaroos’ third major with the margin nine goals at the final change.

Jackway registered his first major in the opening minutes of the final quarter, followed by his second, but Macreadie and Fleming then added to the Blues’ goal tally.

The Blues’ defence, led by Scott, had reassurance when under stress. Whether it was Rohan Diamond’s timely spoils, Jeremy Reid dropping back into marking contests or Ryan Carpenter on the overlap for a relieving handpass.

Reid was instrumental early as he directed traffic, restricting the impact of Heyfield forward Jesse Bedggood, who was forced to work hard for each possession he collected.

Rosedale proved, as it had done all season, to be a sleek and hungry outfit. The Blues’ rotating engine room of Macreaide, Fleming, Hammill, Mowat, Stuckey and ruckman Brouns presented all day.

Heyfield looked to challenge with its characteristic midfield control, fast breaks and at times, audacious ball-sharing by the forwards, particularly Bedggood, Brown, James Beha and Daniel Stubbe, in an attempt to work its way into the contest during the third term.

The backline, led by thirds player Bailey Escreet, felt the effects of the Blues’ many avenues to goal and worked hard to inflict pressure which resulted in a run of behinds. Anderson and Stevens were ruthless and staunch down back, Matt Goodwin ran all day in a shutdown role with the experienced leadership of Brown and Adrian Cox drawn on.