Bundoora secured its third premiership in seven years with a heart-stopping three-point triumph over minor premier Macleod in the 2017 Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 grand final.
It was one for the ages as the electrifying contest lived up to expectations, with a clutch Gary Moorcroft goal at the 29-minute mark of the final term putting the Bulls in front with 90 seconds remaining.
Bundoora ruckman Matthew Dennis was adjudged best afield in a dominant display, three days after winning his third Frank Rosbrook medal.
The 10.16 (76) to 10.13 (73) result sent the premiership cup to Yulong Reserve for the first time since the club’s 2013 win over Montmorency.
Macleod looked home when Nick Lynch dribbled through his fourth goal of the game from a tight angle, before an unbearably intense 11-minute dry patch put hearts in the mouths of a packed Preston City Oval.
The ball was camped in Bundoora’s forward line momentarily before playing-coach Ricky Dyson hurried a kick to the hot spot whilst being tackled, where Moorcroft reeled in the all-important chest mark.
The 41-year-old Bulls veteran calmly converted, erupting the crowd and capping off a stellar finals series for his side – who took the long route to the premiership after losing the qualifying final.
In a game heavily dictated by a powerful breeze to the city end of the ground, the stoppages were going to prove crucial and it was there the Bulls were on top early.
David Mitchell, Nathan Thomas and Liam Byrne were significant in the win for the Bulls, while Kris Bardon was inspirational when the going got tough in the fourth quarter.
Their importance was permissible by the ruck dominance of Dennis, who yet again showcased his worthiness as a three-time competition best and fairest winner.
Moorcroft and Isaac Muller booted three goals each for the Bulls, while Danny Younan and Nick and Josh Grabowski remained dangerous at ground level.
It is the second-successive season Macleod has fallen short in the last game of the year.
The Roos finished the home-and-away season as the top side and romped their way through to the grand final with a 106-point second semi final win, but were outhunted and outlasted in the decider as they became the sixth-consecutive second semi winner to lose the grand final.
Midfield duo Lucas Hobbs and Hamish Paynter won a host of clearances and sparked many of Macleod’s attacks, while Jack Bianchin and Ned McKeown also provided plenty of drive.
Anthony Doherty, Cathal Corr and Nick Lynch were key cogs across half forward for the Roos, the latter finishing with a game-high four majors.
Bundoora led for the majority of the day and it began by keeping Macleod goalless in the opening quarter.
Muller and Moorcroft kicked goals 20 minutes apart from each other, Bundoora’s only downfall nine behinds from 11 scoring shots.
The second quarter was much the same with Macleod kicking with the wind but at times blazing away its opportunities.
Jack Langford, Hamish Paynter and Matthew Clark put through the Roos’ only three goals of the half to put them in front, but Nick Grabowski’s accurate set shot late in the term ensured the Bulls held a four-point advantage at the main break.
Lynch kicked the first of his three third-quarter goals to put Macleod back in front, but his effort from the pocket was responded by Moorcroft and Younan, who goaled within 30 seconds of each other.
The Bulls opened up a game-high 22-point lead when Josh Grabowski and Muller converted to make it four goals in a row, however Lynch responded with two goals in four minutes to give Macleod the momentum at three-quarter time.
Bundoora’s 10-point advantage at the last change of ends was short-lived. Patrick Martin launched a huge bomb for a goal before Reid Brandt out-muscled two opponents and converted to give the Roos the lead.
Todd Hughes jagged a goal against the run of play to give Bundoora back the lead, with the margin extended to 10 when Muller took a strong mark and kicked his third.
Cathal Corr cut the margin to four when he kicked a gem from the pocket, before Lynch tumbled through his fourth to give the Roos the lead at the 18-minute mark.
But the resilient Bulls never gave up and continually sent the ball forward in the dying stages, eventually grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat in a Northern Football League classic.
Final score: Macleod 10.13 (73) def by Bundoora 10.16 (76)