By Ben Pollard
BEAUMARIS SHARKS 6.7 (43) def EAST SANDRINGHAM 5.9 (39)
Spectators at Mentone Grammar Playing Fields were treated to a show when Beaumaris outlasted East Sandringham for the Under 13 Division 1 premiership on Sunday.
The weather provided a big test for some of the SMJFL’s most talented Under 13 players – conditions were sunny at times, ominously dark and rainy at others, and consistently windy.
With a gale at their backs in the opening quarter, the Sharks hit the ground running
Dawit McNeish started brilliantly for Beaumaris, dominating around the stoppages and providing the assist for Lachie Jones who slotted the game’s first goal.
Harry Houlahan was silky smooth through traffic as he goaled on the run, then McNeish found Jones inside 50 again for Beauy’s third major.
The Sharks looked dangerous every time they burst forward, with East Sandringham sweepers Adam Ball and Liam Stocker just doing what they could to clean up the mess.
But once the second quarter began, the momentum shifted.
21 points down at the first break, the Zebbies started hunting in packs, with fierce tackling pressure inside 50 setting up their first goal.
McNeish soon imposed himself on the game again, setting up Jamie Kokoras for a quick reply goal, but East Sandy was rolling.
Connor Murphy buzzed through the middle, Liam Danielis Morley distributed the ball with class and Jake Turner’s aggression in ruck contests was a standout.
With goals to Max King and Ball, the Zebs went into halftime just seven points down.
Ball began the second half as he finished the first, ice-cool in converting a set shot for goal into the breeze to draw his team level.
McNeish showed no signs of letting up either, ferociously attacking the ball at every opportunity as the match tightened up. Teammate Archer Hall impressively slotted a set shot goal from the pocket, using the wind to perfection.
Hall’s major helped give Beaumaris a four-point lead at the final break, but East Sandy would kick with the wind in the last quarter.
The Sharks quickly countered the weather’s influence though, winning clearance after clearance to keep the ball up their end of the ground.
With a scrap developing, something special was needed to break the game open and Ben Sheridan provided just that, with a long-range torpedo goal into the teeth of the breeze.
While that improbable kick may have broken the Zebbies, they didn’t buckle. Their first entry inside 50 in a long time was a Hugh Hyslop kick thrown onto the boot from distance. With no one between him and the goal mouth, the ball bounced – and bounced – all the way through.
East Sandy had several chances soon after to peg the Sharks back again, but a desperate rushed behind in the goalsquare was all they ended up with.
Beauy’s Matt Field and Houlahan both took crucial contested marks on the next chain of play to ice the game, their team scraping home by only four points.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the Sharks, who were humbled by the Zebs just two weeks ago in a semi final. That 53-point drubbing will surely be quickly forgotten as a triumphant premiership win takes pride of place in the memory bank.