Heidelberg will be the hottest of favourites in the 2023 Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 Grand Final after an incredibly dominant 58-point second semi-final victory over Bundoora at Preston City Oval.
A ten-goal to two first half set up the 20.5 (125) to 10.7 (67) win, with the Tigers now making it 36 of their last 38 matches without a loss on their way to a second consecutive Grand Final appearance.
The minor premiers had contributors galore, which has been the norm for them in 2023, with four players kicking three majors.
Two of those in Matthew Smith and Brayden Sier were stand out’s again, excelling around the ground with their efficient ball use. Lachlan Wilson too impressed and finished with two goals.
Bundoora were chasing from the outset despite encouraging performances from Joel Lamotte and Hamish Shepheard.
Shaun McKernan and Peter McEvoy finished with two majors each but where not as influential as the week prior, with their side now falling to Heidelberg for the seventh consecutive game.
Matt Schnerring got things underway two minutes into the match after converting his set shot to give the reigning premiers the perfect start.
Up until the 10-minute mark, Bundoora were able to gain plenty of territory, but were unable to apply any scores on the board.
The Tigers pounced on the missed opportunities from their opposition, first from Matthew Smith with a nice snap before an impressive individual effort Brayden Sier made it three majors to nil halfway through the quarter.
A fourth came moments later from Lachlan Wilson and it was apparent that Heidelberg had control of the match.
Bundoora managed to finally get some scores of there own, registering a few behinds, before Zane Barzen capitalised on another inside 50 entry for the Tigers to make it five unanswered goals for his side.
A late John Jorgensen major gave Bulls fans some hope, but even so, they would need to shift the momentum right around as they faced a 24-point deficit at quarter time.
The Tigers again dominated territory to start the second term, suffocating the Bundoora defenders at every opportunity.
A 50-metre penalty against the run of play gave McEvoy an opportunity to register back-to-back goals for Bundoora but his kick faded to the left.
That shot initiated a 10-minute patch where Michael Ryan’s men matched the intensity that Heidelberg brought to the contest and with the rain making its presence known during that period, scores proved hard to come by.
However, the goal-drought was broken by the Tigers, with back-to-back majors from Matt Signorello and Matt Schnerring putting the margin almost beyond doubt at 35 points close to time on.
Another set of back-to-back goals from Heidelberg, first courtesy of Mitchell Jorgensen and then a nice major from Nathan Honey, helped Vin Dattoli’s men establish a 47-point half time lead.
The momentum continued into the second half, when Matthew Smith converted his set shot in the opening minute of the third term to all but end Bundoora’s hopes of a comeback.
Michael Ryan’s men did rally hard to kick two of the next three goals, which included an immediate response to Smith’s major thanks to Kyle Green.
But the Tigers’ accuracy in front of goal helped them gain a lead of 52 points at three quarter time, allowing Heidelberg to start thinking about another Grand Final appearance in a fortnight’s time.
Eleven goals were kicked in a high scoring final term, with the highlight of the quarter coming from a classy Lachlan Wilson finish 20 minutes into the term. It further stamped the Tigers influence on the game, and it signalled a dominant 58-point win.