Last years’s McDonalds Under 17 Division 3 Grand Final was a remarkable result that just proved the importance of hitting form at the right time of the season.
East Malvern were crowned premiers, despite qualifying for finals in third spot with an less than impressive 9-6 record, after playing inspired football during the entire finals series.
Their opponent, St Bedes/Mentone Tigers, finished one rung above them on the ladder with one extra win to their credit.
Contests were spirited between the two sides during the home and away season, with neither side able to win at the other’s home ground.
St Bedes/Mentone recorded wins at their Mentone Reserve fortress in Rounds 1 and 12 by three and 27 points respectively. East Malvern meanwhile, took the chocolates at Dunlop Reserve by 23 points in Round 7.
An both sides travelled down different roads to reach the premiership decider.
St Bedes/Mentone took on minor premiers the Caulfield Bears in their Second Semi Final clash, and advanced to the Grand Final on the back of their convincing 32-point victory and enjoy a week’s break in the meantime.
East Malvern’s had to do it the hard way, but started their finals campaign in style with a 91-point triumph over Ormond in their cut-throat Semi.
The following week, while St Bedes, put their feet up, the Knights duked it out with Caulfield, and remarkably emerged victorious by 43 points in a boilover.
And so the two best performed sides in the finals met in the decider at Trevor Barker Oval to fight it out for premiership glory.
But early predictions that this be a tight contest all afternoon soon proved inaccurate. It seemed that the week’s break did St Bedes no favours as East Malvern raced out of the blocks with five unanswered goals in the opening term to hold a 31-point lead at the first change.
The Tigers eventually awoke from their slumber in the second, kicking three goals of their own to get back within 17 points at the half and keep their flag dream alive as they headed to the sheds.
However, that dream quickly became a nightmare as the Knight surged again after the restart, further enhancing the third term’s status as the ‘premiership quarter’. The booted 4.3 to 0.2 to open up a match-winning 42-point buffer at the final change.
The game was all but lost for the Tigers, but they bravely fought it out to the end, kicking three goals in the final term to give their loyal fans something to cheer.
But it didn’t dampen the party for East Malvern, who took the silverware with a 27-point win.
Michael Batten dominated all day for the winners and claimed the best on ground medal after his sterling three-goal performance.
Will Ingham, Lewis Powell and James Wainwright were also prominent for the Knights while Taylor Battistella booted two goals.
St Bedes/Mentone: 6.9 (45)
East Malvern: 11.16 (72)
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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