Turtles claim historic premiership

Published on Monday, September 11, 2023

Author : Tim MacDougall

Old Eltham Collegians have claimed their first premiership in the NFNL after upsetting an undefeated Laurimar side by 20-points in the Division 3 Reserves Grand Final at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.

The Power entered the clash with a 17-0 record, which included a 41-point win over Old Eltham two weeks prior in the second semi-final, but the Turtles produced an incredible defensive display to hold Laurimar goalless for two consecutive quarters on their way to a 5.9 (39) to 2.7 (19) victory.

It was led by Thomas Cleary, Jake Cullen and Mitchell Rodda who each played pivotal roles in defensive 50 and calmly withstood the Powers forward pressure all afternoon.

From their efforts, the Turtles routinely rebounded the ball out of their defensive 50 and transitioned the play into dangerous forward-line entries.

Bradley Johnstone finished with the best on ground medallion and was another instrumental member of the premiership winning side.

Laurimar would immediately test the strong defensive set up from Old Eltham Collegians by taking a dominant position in the first quarter. The ball settled almost entirely in their half but scoring shots were a rarity amidst the high-intensity of a grand-final.

Jarod Coco doggedly tried to break open the game in midfield, but the Turtles’ pressure on the ball carrier made it incredibly difficult to take clean possession.

Therefore, it was a relief for Power fans when Jesse Politini capitalised on his team’s ascendancy with a set-shot goal. It would be the term’s only major, with Laurimar taking a nine-point advantage into the first break.

Despite a scoreless opening quarter, the Turtles appeared to be a new side from the onset of the second term.

They won the multiple clearances and constrained Laurimar’s space to force turnovers, taking the game to a fierce tenacity.

These efforts were rewarded as Tim Woods found space in a pack to snap through his team’s first. From then on, Old Eltham Collegians would never look back.

If any Turtles fans didn’t already believe, Jake Francis made them do so, as pressed against the boundary, he would dribble through a goal that would give his team the lead.

Thomas Burns followed by kicking a sensational goal from the 50-metre arc, capping off a scintillating quarter for the Turtles, which saw them lead by nine points themselves at the main break.

This dominance continued in the third term, but this time, Old Eltham Collegians could not find the clinical touch they desired.

Jack Snow applied great tacking pressure to keep the ball locked in the Turtles forward-line, but his side could only manage to score one goal from five shots.

On the flipside, Laurimar could hardly maintain possession of the football, and by adding just one further behind in the term, they had gone almost two complete quarters without finding the big sticks.

Trailing by 18 points at the final interval, Laurimar playing coach Jayden Wendt tried to will his team to salvage their flawless season, but it would be to no avail.

Despite Jake Valvo and Josh Walker posing as threats up forward, it would be the Turtles who struck first.

Marking 30-metres out from goal, Jack Snow sailed home a set-shot to ensure his team’s advantage was beyond reach for the Power.

A late Laurimar goal could not disrupt the party, as Old Collegians Eltham fans, players and coaches stormed the field on the final siren to celebrate their club’s first premiership in the competition.

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