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2010 SANFL Grand Final

GREAT VICTORY FOR FLAG
By Robert Laidlaw

In the greatest SANFL grand final in a generation, Central District held on for an exciting six-point victory over Norwood to claim its ninth premiership from 11 consecutive grand finals.

And for the first time in a premiership-winning performance, the Bulldogs trailed at one of the breaks, when 17-points down at half time – from the past eight flags, Central led at every change of ends.

The victory was the Dogs fourth straight grand final win, which is only the third time this has happened in SANFL history, behind Port Adelaide’s six (1954-59) and Sturt’s five (1966-70).

Then there was the Gowans twins, Chris and James, who equalled the Magpies’ Geof Motley’s nine premiership medals, with the possibility they will come back for another year to go one better!

Central captain Paul Thomas won the toss and the Bulldogs kicked to the southern end, with the aid of a stiff breeze. At the two-minute mark Chris Gowans slotted a cleverly kicked goal to give his side the perfect start.

After Norwood had the reply 90 seconds later, Central regained control, with goals to Kyle Jenner and Daniel Schell, for a comfortable lead, before Ian Callinan slotted his first of four majors for the day, to stake the Bulldogs a 4-1 to 1-1 advantage at the first break.

The first 12 minutes of the second quarter was a nightmare for Central supporters, as the Redlegs hammered home five goals to work to a 13-point lead, with some unbelievable shots for goal, as they appeared unable to miss.

Crucially the Bulldogs steadied and cut off any easy avenues to goal for Norwood, with just one more major added, as Central trailed 4-5 to 7-4 at half time – with a couple of closes misses maybe robbing the eventual premier of some much needed momentum.

But whatever coach Roy Laird said to his troops at half time, it should be bottled and recycled for future big games, as a reinvigorated Bulldog unit hit the third quarter with all the running.

First Callinan managed to steer through Central’s fifth goal three minutes in when he poked one through after negotiating heavy traffic, then Schell booted another a few minutes later to close the gap to under a kick.

Then the day’s biggest play unwound halfway through the period, as a red-hot Callinan carried the ball from the wing, and after a good shepherd from Thomas and a couple of bounces, kicked the goal of the game for the Dogs to lead by three-points.

Time on goals to Lee Spurr and Schell – his third – gave Central a 9-11 to 7-6 advantage at three-quarter time, although kicking against a still strong breeze in the final stanza.

Norwood peppered the goals in the first 10 minutes of the final term but only managed three points, which would have been energy-sapping.

And when Callinan stepped up to the plate and kicked truly at the 12 minute mark, it seemed like the Bulldogs premiership was signed, sealed and awaiting delivery.

But Norwood refused to lie down and whittled the margin down to seven points at the 22 minute mark, with about four minutes remaining.

The Bulldogs played keeping offs, which worked until a stray kick freed Norwood retiree Tim Weatherald, who from 50m bombed the ball forward, only to hit the post – six points the difference, and a draw on the cards.

With just over 60 seconds remaining, Central controlled the play until the final siren sounded to signal the end of the most exciting grand final the Bulldogs have ever been involved in.

The deserving winning of the Jack Oatey Medal was Callinan, who demonstrated the form he had displayed through the season, which made him an ultimately unsuccessful Magarey Medal favourite.

In a tight game every play, every goal, every mistake is magnified in analysing where a team wins and loses a grand final, but at the end of the day football was the major winner on Sunday, as the Dogs continued its dynasty and Norwood signalled it was ready to match it with the best in the business.

Besides Callinan’s heroics, captain courageous Thomas virtually willed the Dogs to victory with his incessant attack on the ball and any opponent who had it, Heath Lawry was a mountain in defence, especially as his partner in crime Yves Sibenaler was knocked silly from friendly fire early.

Jason Mackenzie is the consummate finals player and did not disappoint with another fine performance in ruck, with good support form Jason Sutherland, while the younger guys stood up on the big stage, including the likes of Trent Goodrem, Spurr and James Boyd.

Central District    4.1    4.5    9.11    10.11    (71)
Norwood    1.1    7.4    7.6    9.11    (65)
Best: Callinan, Lawry, Thomas, Mackenzie, Goodrem, Spurr, Boyd.
Goals: Callinan 4, Schell 3, C. Gowans, Jenner, Spurr.

* * *

The 2010 premiership team

FF: James Boyd, Daniel havelberg, Eddie Sansbury
HF: Chris Gowans, Daniel Schell, Andrew Hayes
C: Jack Gunston, James Gowans, Kyle Jenner
HB: Jay Nash, Yves Sibenaler, Paul Thomas (C)
FB: Lee Spurr, Heath Lawry, Trent Goodrem

Ruck: Jason Mackenzie, Ryan Williams, Ian Callinan

Interchange: Scott Dutschke, Brayden O'Hara, Jason Sutherland

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