A four goal to nil second term helped Diamond Creek secure a brilliant Marbuilt Division 2 Under 19.5 Grand Final victory, defeating a resilient South Morang outfit by 20 points at Preston City Oval.
While it wasn’t as dominant as their second semi-final victory against the Lions two weeks earlier, the Creekers were able to withstand the challenges that came their way from their opposition in order to prevail 10.14 (74) to 7.12 (54), which is the club’s first under 19.5’s premiership since 2016.
For the Creekers, it was an all-around stellar performance by midfielder Ryan Sizeland. He produced multiple centre clearances and finished with two majors on his way to securing the best on ground medallion.
Fellow midfielder Jett McLaughlan was also a standout for the Creekers, showing great poise when required in the centre of the ground and up forward, while ruckman Riley Lewis worked tirelessly against multiple opponents and was always kept busy.
For the Lions, defenders Lucas Yacoub and Anthony Erotocritou were formidable in the air, either grabbing intercept marks or bringing the ball to ground to help their teammates rebound.
Adam De Propertis was also significant in the middle, winning multiple centre clearances for his side, with forward Max Hayes being the side’s only multiple goalkicker with two majors.
From the onset, possession was shared between the two teams with only one inside 50 registered in six minutes of play.
The play between the arcs soon ceased when Creekers forward Kade Garraway converted his set shot to register the first major of the Grand Final.
South Morang answered just minutes later, where Hayes capitalised from a turnover and kicked a brilliant snap to get his side on the board.
However, it was apparent as the quarter went on that the Creekers were starting to win the territory battle, and it soon paid off close to the first break as Ryan Sizeland took a strong contested mark and kicked truly from close range.
Sizeland would have an immediate impact from the start of the second quarter, winning the ball from the centre clearance and propelling it forward to find Miller Connell. Connell slotted the goal inside the opening 30 seconds of the term to see his side lead by 13 points.
Diamond Creek continued to lock the ball inside their forward 50 and were able to create many scoring opportunities as a result.
Connell would find more reward for his strong marking efforts inside the attacking half by hitting the scoreboard again. McLaughlan would then set up the final goal of the first half with a great pass to Kade Garraway, who dribbled the goal through from close range.
Keeping the Lions to just one behind for the term, Diamond Creek were full of confidence as they led by 34 points at half time.
South Morang rotated players in the ruck throughout the third term, but few could slow down the Creekers’ Riley Lewis, who was instrumental in pushing the ball forward for his side in the quarter.
The highlight of the term, and possibly the match, was McLaughlan’s second goal, where after swerving in and out of traffic, he snapped truly to put even more distance between his side and the Lions.
South Morang would attempt to mount another challenge at the Creekers, replying to McLaughlan’s major with back-to-back goals as they looked to chip away at Diamond Creek’s lead.
Things were starting to click for the minor premiers and after Jad Assaad and Daniel Lansfield scored the next two goals of the game, the margin was reduced to 16 points at three quarter time.
But from the first centre stoppage of the last quarter, it was evident that Diamond Creek was playing with increased urgency around the contest.
The Creekers kicked two straight majors to push their lead out to beyond four goals before South Morang’s Lucas Yacoub responded immediately with a great snap to keep the Lions in the contest.
But Diamond Creek rallied the troops as they slowed the pace of the game down, something they couldn’t do in the previous quarter.
It would be Sizeland who capped off his excellent performance with a great long-distance goal to put the game and the premiership out of reach for their opponents.