SUNBURY 12.15 (87) defeated REDAN 7.15 (57)
SUNBURY has one hand on another Ballarat Football League premiership after disposing of Redan in a clinical display on Saturday.
In typical Sunbury fashion, it was the reigning premier that stood tall when it mattered most, booting four goals to Redan’s one in the last quarter to run out 30-point victors.
In a genuine arm wrestle of a second semi-final at Eastern Oval, the Eastern Lions flexed their muscle in the second half to run out 12.15 (87) to 7.15 (57) winners.
After a tense first three quarters that saw three lead changes, Sunbury blew the game apart in the last term to earn a week off and advance through to its third consecutive grand final.
In a tense match in which advancing the ball forward by any means possible seemed to take precedent over displays of skill and finesse, the Eastern Lions dominated the contest ball to stamp its claim as the team to beat.
Most of the match was a typical clash between the two Lions of the BFL.
At one stage during the second and third quarters, more than 30 minutes ticked by where neither side kicked a goal.
Earlier, the reigning premier had threatened to crack the game open.
After absorbing the initial maroon and gold onslaught in which Redan established a 15-point lead within 10 minutes, Sunbury slammed on six consecutive goals and led by four goals at the start of the second quarter.
But then something changed.
Redan clicked into gear, kicking three goals in seven minutes to cut the margin to two points.
All of a sudden the ledger was squared and that was where it remained for more than a quarter.
Aaron Gercovich added extra spice to arguably his best game for Redan by putting his side in front by four points at the 20-minute mark.
Redan’s lead should in fact have been greater had it taken advantage of its opportunities.
But the last three minutes of the final term proved telling.
As each side tried to pin down its opponent, it was the Eastern Lions that broke the shackles in the dying moments of the third quarter to establish a handy 10-point buffer at the final break.
Dale Cuinik intercepted a kick by Redan ruckman Brett Dickinson and converted.
A goal at the death by Ryan Monzell then saw Sunbury establish a 10-point lead but, more importantly, head into the deciding term with all the momentum. And it showed.
Sunbury statistics showed the blue and white had 46 contested possessions to Redan’s 21 in the last quarter, as the reigning premier stormed to a 30-point victory.
Sunbury coach Rick Horwood paid testament to the character of his troops who have advanced through to their third grand final in as many years.
“I’m just rapt for the playing group after all the hard work they’ve done. It’s probably been the toughest year of the three years. It’s been really hard to get to this point,” Horwood said.
“Good teams back it up and we’ve given ourselves the opportunity, but that’s all it is at the moment – an opportunity.”
Sunbury has two weeks to prepare for the grand final.
“We won last year when we had the break. We lost the year before when we didn’t have the break. That’s got to play on the psyche of the playing group,” Horwood said.
Sunbury has not lost to Redan in the past seven meetings between the pair.
“I think the respect we’ve got for Redan, we know they’re always going to come back,” Horwood said.
“I think we concentrate better against them, because we know they will keep working right till the end. You can’t take your foot off the pedal with these blokes.”
The Western Lions will come up against North Ballarat City next week in a preliminary final.