The Oakleigh Dragons and the Hampton Rovers were combatants in the 2015 Under 13 Division 3 Grand Final and both showed tremendous spirit in what proved to be a hard-fought battle.
Hampton entered the clash as underdogs after making the decider from fourth on the ladder, an uncommon occurrence, and put up a brave fight against the Dragons. But Oakleigh, who finished second on the ladder after the home and away season, were too strong early in the game at Toorak Park and ultimately claimed the trophy.
Head to head honours between the Dragons and the Rovers were shared one win a piece throughout the year, but Oakleigh were the clear winners on aggregate.
Hampton drew first blood with a nail-biting two-point win at Princes Highway Reserve in Round 1, but Oakleigh reversed the result in Round 12 with a commanding 77-point victory at Boss James Reserve.
Both teams earned the right to face off in the decider with success in their penultimate games of the season.
The Dragons took on East Brighton Vampires at Columbia Park in the first Semi Final, and were able to emerge victorious by 27 points on the back of a dominant second term.
But the fourth-placed Rovers pulled off the upset of the season in their Semi early in the day, defeating minor premiers Dingley by just one solitary point.
To that stage, the Dingoes had lost just one match for the year, but Hampton started this game brilliantly and held off a late fightback from their fancied opponents to enter the Grand Final full of confidence.
However, it was Oakleigh that drew first blood in the big dance and got off to a perfect start at Toorak Park. Three goals straight to the Dragons in the opening stanza gave them the early ascendancy, while the Rovers could only manage two behind in reply.
The second term was a hard-fought slog with neither side willing to concede anything to their opponents. Just one goal was registered for the term, and thankfully for the Rovers it was up their end and it kept them within 11 points at the long break.
But unfortunately they couldn’t make any further inroads into the deficit. The second half became a stalemate with the Dragons and the Rovers registering one goal each in the third and fourth quarters.
The result was a 15-point triumph and a nice piece of silverware heading to Oakleigh.
Eamon McKenzie and Hayden Boyce kicked two each for the victorious Dragons, while Aleksander Paris won the best on ground medallion.
Lucas Sharp, Lachlan Reynolds and Hugo Lay were the goal scorers for Hampton.
Oakleigh Dragons: 5.6 (36)
Hampton Rovers: 3.3 (21)
You can watch this game and more from the 2015 SMJFL Finals Series at www.smjfl.tv, including all SMJFL Grand Finals from 2012 to 2015.
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