Heidelberg have capped off a dominant 2022 campaign in style, defeating Bundoora by 15 points to claim the Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 premiership at Preston City Oval.
Despite trying conditions, both sides produced some of their best football with just six points separating the two teams at three quarter time. But the Tigers kicked the all important first goal of the final term and never looked back, claiming a 6.11 (47) to 5.2 (32) victory.
It’s the club’s 21st premiership in the NFNL as well as its 20th in Division 1, with coach Danny Nolan now a premiership coach alongside his five flags as a Heidelberg player.
Matthew Smith was awarded with the best on ground medallion. The medal completed what has been an outstanding two years for Smith, winning two Division 1 Coaches MVP awards as well as finishing in the top five of Wednesday night’s Frank Rosbrook Medal count.
His grunt work in the middle and his clearance winning ability was exceptional, particularly in conditions which resulted in many stoppages.
Josh Minogue continued his love affair with Bundoora up forward, kicking three goals and making it 15 goals in four games against the Bulls this season.
Sam Gilmore’s stellar season in ruck continued, with the Heidelberg skipper have an influence in the middle, whilst defenders Kieran Andrew and Sean Martin provided class and composure down back for the Tigers.
For the Bulls, it ends a run of three consecutive Grand Final victories, with their day cruelled by the injury of co-captain Luke Collins.
Neville Jetta and Brent Marshall again got plenty of the football and were clean with their ball use down back. Jesse King also provided a spark inside 50 alongside John Jorgensen, both kicking two goals each, while Sam Lloyd and Nathan Thomas fought hard in the trenches all day in the absence of Collins.
It was the Bulls that started the game slightly on top in the territory battle, before the Tigers got down to business and started to get on top.
The rain was relentless at Preston City Oval and as a result, it took until the 18th minute for the Tigers to get the first of the term through Minogue, who had threatened to score multiple times earlier.
Bundoora kept up with the minor premiers for the opening quarter, but they failed to register a score themselves heading into the first change.
The Bulls responded two minutes into second quarter though, with John Jorgensen converting a set shot to get Michael Ryan’s men underway.
Brayden Sier then kicked one of his own to regain Heidelberg’s double-figure lead at the midway point of the term.
Bundoora continued to press and as time on approached, King was able to find the big sticks to make it a five-point deficit at half time.
As he did in the second term, Jorgensen again gave the Bulls the perfect start to begin the third quarter, with his soccer goal giving his side their first lead of the match just minutes in.
It was then goal for goal for the next 15 minutes, with Kyle Green converting his set shot in between two Minogue majors, to keep everyone still guessing about when the game would turn.
Heidelberg led by six points at three quarter time with the anticipation of what was to come in the final term of the season at an all-time high.
In what would prove to be a crucial major, Nathan Honey kicked the quarter’s opening goal, extending their lead to 12 points as the rain continued to make its presence known.
The Bulls did everything they could to swing the momentum back around, but they were unable to keep the ball in their attacking half.
At the 16-minute mark, Kai Kearns ran inside 50 unmarked and sealed the flag for the Tigers with an excellent goal, sending Heidelberg fans into a frenzy.
It was enough for the celebrations to start ringing out at Preston City Oval as the minor premiers claimed their first premiership in six years.