Is this the greatest premiership win in league history?
West Preston-Lakeside defied a 0-6 start to the season to become the first club this decade to win back-to-back Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 premierships.
The Roosters completed the historic triumph with a stunning upset over Greensborough in the grand final – coming from three goals down in the second quarter to win 8.5 (53) to 6.5 (41) at Preston City Oval.
Appearing as though they were on the ropes early in the second term, the Roosters fought their way back into the contest and finished with seven of the last eight goals in a low-scoring and hotly contested game.
With scores tied at three quarter time, they found an extra gear in the final term to kick the opening three goals and clinch a second-successive premiership win.
Star midfielder Luke Lirosi was adjudged best afield as he added another accolade to an already impressive CV.
Lirosi edged out Garrett McDonagh, Michael Ercolano and Matthew Harman for the honour – on a day when any of the quartet would have been deserving winners of the best on ground medal.
They’ve done it again!
West Preston-Lakeside have become the first side this decade to win back-to-back Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 premierships.
Greensborough 6.5 (41) def by West Preston-Lakeside 8.5 (53)
Best on ground: Luke Lirosi (West Preston-Lakeside) pic.twitter.com/w8CcxC5SqA
— Northern FNL (@northernfnl) September 21, 2019
West Preston-Lakeside coach Rob Maiorana was beaming with pride following the historic triumph.
“I’m just genuinely proud of the boys and the whole club,” Maiorana said.
“The fight in these boys. The love they have and the spirit. To get over the line and beat a side that was just outstanding all year is just huge.”
Maiorana said the club’s ability to persist in the face of adversity was the key to turning its fortunes around after a poor start to its premiership defence.
“Not a lot changed. You just have to persist in those situations, and you’ve got to believe and instill confidence back into the group,” he said.
“Slowly it turns. You don’t lose your talent overnight.
“Yes, we had some challenges with out availability, but we just stuck to our process.
“We honed it and improved it and we all made a pact to go as far as we can and took it one game at a time. It was elimination finals for 14 or 15 weeks straight.”
West Preston-Lakeside made a fast start to the grand final with the advantage of the breeze in the first term and kicked the opening two goals via Ahmed Saad and Alex Federico.
However, Greensborough responded emphatically and booted the next four goals to take a 12-point lead into quarter time.
Among the goals was a remarkable solo effort from Matthew Haynes, who took possession in the middle of the ground before racing down Preston City Oval to convert from the goal square.
When Ben Fennell kicked his first at the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter it appeared the premiership was headed to War Memorial Park, with the Boro holding all the momentum and an 18-point advantage.
But just as it has done all season – West Preston-Lakeside stuck to the task and slowly got the game back on its terms.
The Roosters made the game a contested slog. Gradually their midfielders got on top at the stoppages, while Jackson Clarke, Aidan Tilley and Joel McDonald held the fort down back.
A goal to Mitch Tobin right before the half time siren closed the deficit to 12 points at the main break and brought about hope of a come-from-behind win.
The third term was an arm-wrestle, but it was the Roosters who won the key moments. Goals to Saad and Lirosi put the reigning premiers ahead by a point, with what proved to be the only majors of the term.
With scores tied at the last break, it was Lirosi who again stood up when it mattered most.
He booted the opening two goals of the final term, before late inclusion Ozgur Uysal slotted a set shot deep in the forward pocket at the 20-minute mark to send the West Preston-Lakeside faithful into raptures.
Greensborough threw everything it had in the final 10 minutes, but it wasn’t enough. Tom Bell managed a goal with two minutes remaining – ending a goal drought that extended 73 minutes of game time.
The grand final win capped another remarkable defensive performance from West Preston-Lakeside, who conceded just 140 points across its four finals wins.
After making history as the first side to play finals following a 0-6 start, the Roosters’ efforts throughout September will go into folklore.
Long may the discussion last – is this the greatest premiership win in league history
Final score: Greensborough 6.5 (41) def by West Preston-Lakeside 8.5 (53)
Goal Kickers: T. Bell 2, J. Callaway, C. Molyneux, M. Haynes, B. Fennell
Best Players: C. Molyneux, J. Johnston, T. Bell, M. Croxford, J. Desmond, A. Cataldo
Goal Kickers: L. Lirosi 3, A. Saad 2, M. Tobin, A. Federico, O. Uysal
Best Players: G. McDonagh, L. Lirosi, M. Ercolano, M. Harman, J. McDonald, M. Signorello