Trevor Barker Oval proved to be a happy hunting ground again for Brunswick NOBs as the reserves returned to the site of the club’s last premiership in 2012 and came home with the spoils against West Brunswick in a nail-biting grand final on Sunday.
For three quarters the game was a slow burn, with a soccer-like scoreline of two goals apiece, before it opened up in the final term and took supporters on a wild ride to an eventual four-point victory and some overdue silverware at Gillon Oval.
Played in seemingly ideal conditions, the first quarter was an absolute arm wrestle with the defences of both sides on top and no goals kicked at all. The goal drought was broken by the dangerous Liam Weightman a minute into the second term with a well-taken set shot but that was it for the first half.
After halftime the game began to flow a little more and after eight minutes West Brunswick finally landed a major and the lead, then Weightman kicked goal-of-the-day with a brilliant snap from the social club stand pocket to put the NOBs back in front. But the Westies kept pushing and an unfortunate 50m penalty handed them their second and the slimmest of leads going into the final break.
After three-quarter time the game changed complexion as the suffocating defensive pressure applied by both sides began to wane and the quality of ball-use rose. Initially, it was the Westies who were looking the goods, with some nice play from the opening bounce to set up a shot from directly in front, which was taken. When a carbon-copy of the play saw the ball in the hands of the same forward the signs were ominous for Brunswick, but this time he hit the post and margin was only eight points as a result.
The NOBs then pushed forward and created scoring opportunities, which translated into a free kick at the top of the goal square for Jack Spencer, who duly converted. A few minutes later Anthony Alexandris helicoptered one just over the defender on the goal line and Brunswick had the lead again, then Zephyr Hooke was on the end of some nice footy and he also kicked truly. With their tails up, the NOBs continued to press and earned another free in front, with the advantage quickly taken by Spencer who tumbled through his second for the term and what looked like being the sealer, with the margin out to 16 points after 14 minutes.
But back West Brunswick came, with a quick response followed by more forward pressure to eke out another, so with 53 seconds left on the clock it was a three-point game. It was no place for the feint-hearted! With the premiership on the line Brunswick won the ball from the centre and created two opportunities to ice the game and, while neither went through, the NOBs had done enough to hold on and cue the start of some long-awaited celebrations.
Liam Weightman was a deserved winner of the medal for best-on-ground, while Hayden James and Darcy Heenan were fantastic in defence all day. Chris Gavaghan was our best marking forward, while Tyler Bruns, Lewis McKenzie and Matt Dickson were excellent contributors.
Congratulations to the whole team, led by playing coach Ben Daly and his sideline ally in Fraser Pearson. Enjoy it boys, you certainly deserve it!
View match day photo gallery on VAFA’s Facebook feed.
VAFA match replay
Trevor Barker Oval
Beach Rd and Georgiana St, Sandringham VIC