SMJFL 1.0 3.0 5.1 6.3 (39)
EFL 1.3 5.5 6.8 8.13 (61)
Goalkickers: C. McGaw 3, J. Morgan 2, D. Szydlik
Best: A. Trusler, D. Szydlik, N. Murphy, D. Keating, J. Morgan, O. Bennett
By Ben Pollard
The SMJFL left Dandenong’s Shepley Oval on Saturday empty-handed for a second consecutive week, after the Eastern FL proved too powerful in an AFL Victoria Metropolitan Junior Championships grand final for the third time this year.
South Metro’s Under 14 Division 2 team had gone through the qualifying rounds undefeated, but met the same fate as the Under 14 Division 1 and Under 15 Division 1 sides did the previous Saturday.
Big strong EFL bodies in the contests has been the theme through these grand finals and this match was no exception.
The SMJFL boys matched it with Eastern in an early slog before the smooth-moving Oscar Bennett found Charlie McGaw to break through for the game’s first goal.
Daniel Keating was providing plenty of drive from a wing and half back, while Dae Szydlik’s presence at ruck contests and around the ground was imposing.
One goal apiece accurately reflected an even opening quarter, but the EFL quickly stamped its authority on the match in the second stanza.
South Metro’s smaller types – Aaron Trusler and Will Burmeister in particular – were bringing a healthy dose of speed and pressure to the table, but big contested marks in Eastern’s forward 50 set up the first two goals of the quarter.
An Adam Schaeche centre clearance provided reward for effort for Szydlik as the big man converted a set shot goal to answer, but the EFL responded with another two majors of its own and suddenly the margin had blown out.
An intercept in defensive 50 by Keating set up a flowing chain of play that ended with McGaw’s second goal on the halftime siren and the margin was back to a manageable 17 points.
The SMJFL came out after the break intent on sharing possession around, with quick-fire handballs the name of the game. The frenzied ball movement paid off early in the third term, when a switch of play in defence created space for runners to deliver to McGaw for his third snag.
But if the handballs came unstuck, South Metro’s defensive group needed to stand up to Eastern’s long kicks going forward.
Nathan Murphy shone with his ability to intercept and repel opposition attacks, Joseph Halloran was stout on the last line of defence and Jak Nardino ran and carried out of the danger zone.
Jayce Morgan was everywhere at this time, slotting a goal either side of three-quarter time to put the SMJFL within two kicks. Schaeche was massive early in the last term, setting up Morgan’s second with a stirring chase down and tackle.
Opportunities dried up after that though, with the EFL’s strength wearing down South Metro. Eastern converted the final two goals of the decider to seal victory.
Having shared similar disappointment this year, both Under 14 teams will now look ahead, hopefully sharing similar motivation to strike back in 2014.