East Point hold on for first BFNL premiership

September 26, 2018 BY

East Point forward Brad Whittaker gets it up the nose. Photos: ALAN MARINI

Melton 14.11.95 def by. East Point 15.7.97

BALLARAT Football Netball league minor premiers, East Point, have secured their first senior football premiership in a nail biting encounter with Melton last Saturday.

The Kangaroos held on by only two points after Melton stormed home in the final minutes of the last quarter and claimed their first flag since joining the competition in 2001 following the infamous Golden Point and East Ballarat merger.

Conditions at Mars Stadium were perfect, with a swirly breeze not really having effect on the game. The pristine AFL standard surface would allow for one greatest grand finals in the BFNL history to take place.

Two weeks prior, in the first semi-final, the Bloods stunned East Point to secure their place in Saturday’s grand final and took slight favouritism into the game and more importantly the psychological edge over their opponents.

The game began in a shootout style fashion with both sides attacking prowess coming into play and bolstering the high standard of the game.

Clay Bilney got the ball rolling with a thumping goal from outside 50 before Ryan Davis levelled the scores moments later with his goal coming with Melton’s first inside 50 at the three minute mark.

East Point elected to recall half-forward, Rhys Monument, and the shock decision from Jake Bridges paid off at the five minute mark as Monument was able to back the faith shown to him with a goal from 45 metres out.

However, this would be the last goal of the term for the Kangaroos with Melton going on an absolute tear with goals coming from left, right and centre, to shift the game into a completely different direction.

Mark Orr, Tom Button, Brock Kennedy, Braedan Kight and runners-up from this year’s Henderson Medal, Matthew Denham, all hit the scoreboard to shellshock East Point and command a 25-point lead at the first break.

Ecstatic is an understatement to describe the feeling in the Melton huddle at quarter time with a sea of Bloods supporters flocking to hear coach, Aaron Tymms, address.

He delivered a positive message that reminded his players to continue to, “Hunt the football and tackle as a team,” and credited his midfield for their clearance work, as they smashed the Kangaroos 11-0 in that count in the first term.

At the three-minute mark of the second quarter East Point was able to draw first blood with Bilney’s second, reducing the margin to 19 points.

However, Connor Griffiths would respond at the ten minute mark to restore the game high lead and further exude Melton’s dominance on the contest.

The Bloods would kick a string of behinds from here which proved to be big moments where they could have sown up the premiership.

Late into the second quarter, East Point’s Mickitja Rotumah-Onus would make them pay with his set shot goal leaving a glimmer of hope for his side as they trailed by 23-points at the major break.

The minor premiers were being completely outclassed in every facet of the game but still remained alive.

Key forward, Joel Ottavi, showed great signs in the later stages the first-half where he was able to finally clunk some grabs and at least give the Kangaroos a target in forward.

Bridges made some surprising tactical decisions to begin the second-half with most notably, Jake McQueen, being moved to the half back line to try and give his side the best advantage with all of his VFL class being on display.

What followed was the most remarkable five minutes of football ever played in a Ballarat Football Netball League grand final.

Daniel Semmens goaled at the three minute mark before Ottavi snapped his first major 60 seconds later, which was followed by a Matthew Johnston goal off the back of a free-kick ensuing quickly after.

Seven minutes in veteran forward Brad Whittaker was the man to put East Point in front with a great mark just outside the goal square and converting in usual Whittaker fashion.

Ottavi snagged his second a couple minutes later to make it five goals in a row for East Point before Melton co-Captain, Braedan Kight, answered with a steadying major at the 13-minute mark.

East Point would kick away again to make it a nine-goal quarter for them with Semmens and Ottavi both getting on the board to secure three goal terms.

Melton now trailed by 26-points in the blink of the eye and had some injury concerns to deal with, as Denham’s ankle and ruckman Ben Archard’s knee, impacting their influence. As they have done all season, even when they had their backs up against the wall, they were able to respond with Jaycob Hickey and Riley Walker both kicking goals to ensure that their side remained in striking distance going into the final term.

East Point had a 15-point lead going into the final term and Jake Bridges, who is generally a very placid customer, turned up the intensity to try and inspire his players with his three-quarter time address.

He told his players that the premiership was, “In touching distance,” and that 30 minutes of their brand of football would get the medal around their neck.

For the first time in the entire game, it was Melton who actually drew first blood in a quarter with speedster Billy Crofts goaling on the run at the three minute mark.

From here, the game became an arm wrestle as East Point were happy to create stoppage after stoppage and take the sting out of the game completely.

Their stagnant play frustrated the Bloods and opened the door for Matthew Johnston who kicked his second goal at the 17 minute mark to create a 13-point lead.

Blake Souter got the instant response with his classy footwork allowing him to dodge traffic and covert around the body, however as the game ticked into time on, Jordan Johnston ran into a vacant goal square to kick what many people anticipated was the sealer and restore a 15-point lead.

But like we have seen so many times in season 2018, there was another twist in this match with Melton able to cement a fight back.

Bridges made the decision to go ultra-defensive and flooded the backline, which meant really that the Bloods were playing with a ten-man forward line at times.

Through the most unlikely of sources, Liam Carter marked inside 50 and then Connor Griffiths set shot goal at the 34 minute mark reduced the margin to two points and with only six seconds on the clock left, the ball was back in the centre and the Bloods had one final chance to win the cup.

Yet East Point was able to hold and despite not playing to the best of their abilities, they walked out deserving premiers.

Matthew Johnston was awarded to be the best player on ground.

In other grand final results Bacchus Marsh upset the undefeated Easts Point to win the reserves football premiership, while North Ballarat City was the A grade netball and Under 18.5 football premierships.

Lake Wendouree also had a big day in the netball, taking out three different grades.

Thank you for supporting local journalism!