Despite trailing 20 minutes into the last quarter, Greensborough dug deep in the final 10 minutes to overhaul Northcote Park and take out the Division 1 reserves premiership.
The 6.14 (50) to 5.11 (41) victory was Greensborough’s second in a span of five consecutive grand final attempts from 2013-17, with both victories coming against the Cougars – winning in 2015 and now 2017.
Unlike that 2015 decider, which saw Greensborough record a 53-point triumph, this grand final saw a tight arm-wrestle which went right down to the wire, with scores locked as late as the 22-minute mark of the final quarter.
Daniel Shaw, earlier, had got the Boro off to the perfect start. Despite kicking against a fierce wind, Shaw was in plenty of space in the forward line as he was able to skip into an open goal just two minutes in after benefitting from good ball movement from the Boro midfielders.
However, almost instantaneously, Northcote Park was able to reply, with Trent Fallon producing a neat snap goal from 30 metres. The goal kicked the Cougars into action, as they were able to start winning more of the ball in the centre and dominated the inside 50 count.
Despite that, however, Greensborough’s defending was resolute for a large majority of the quarter. Their only lapse came in the space of two minutes of play when they conceded two quick goals.
Firstly, Thomas Jackson converted after winning a free kick for a high tackle, then from the bounce, hard running from Cameron Simpson was rewarded when he was able to gather and produce a cleverly snap to give the Cougars a 16-point advantage at the first change.
It appeared the Cougars were prepared to defend for their lives in the second quarter, holding the Boro to just one behind in the opening five minutes of the quarter. However, Shaw kicked his team into action after pickpocketing a Cougars’ player to kick truly.
Drew Wilson was a big performer for the Boro throughout the second quarter, and his timely goal – a snap which took a fortuitous bounce – drew them level. When Shaw kicked his third of the half, the Boro were able to take a one-goal advantage at half time.
Along with Wilson, Jacob Pickett was putting in an enormous effort, while Jason Tucker was putting his body on the line when needed, wearing a big bump during the quarter.
The third quarter was a dour affair, as Northcote Park pushed for goals, trying to make full use of the wind.
The Cougars were largely unsuccessful throughout the quarter, kicking six consecutive behinds, whilst being denied scoring opportunities through courageous marks from Jackson Grimble and Josh Money, who both helped to stall any momentum the Cougars would have wanted to take into three-quarter-time.
A late goal to Michael O’Connell, however, put the Cougars in front, and gave them something to defend with Greensborough having crucial use of the wind in the final quarter.
The Boro were able to strike first in the final quarter, as Money drifted forward to score from close range, reducing the margin to a solitary point in the process.
Although they were able to then hit the front via a couple of minor scores,
Greensborough’s quest towards the premiership took a blow when Janus Waldron kicked the Cougars’ first goal against the wind to put them back in front at the 15-minute mark.
Greensborough was undeterred by Waldron’s goal, however, and continued to attack the scoreboard.
Mathew Bosco and Ben Pannam were able to put the Boro in front through minor scores, but were still desperately pushing for a winner to give them the breathing space they needed.
That winner would eventually come through Chris Walker, who sealed the premiership with a goal from 45 metres out at the 27-minute mark to give the Boro a nine-point victory.
Pickett would be awarded the best on ground medal for his efforts in driving the Boro to victory, with solid support from Bosco, Tucker and Wilson, while O’Connell, Jayden Askew and Harrison Reid were amongst Northcote Park’s better players.
Final score: Northcote Park 5.11 (41) def by Greensborough 6.14 (50)