Back-to-back champions – Dromana celebrate after a magnificent grand final victory over Sorrento. Pictures: Riley Lockett/Frankie Photography
By David Nagel
Dromana is basking in the glory of one of the all-time great team performances after a disciplined and determined seven-point victory over Sorrento in the Chisholm MPNFL Division One Grand Final at Frankston Park on Sunday.
The Tigers booked their place in MPNFL folklore with a stirring victory that earned them back-to-back titles – backing up last year’s division two success against Red Hill.
Coach Rikki Johnston and his support staff conjured up a masterplan, designed to nullify the most potent and attacking force in the MPNFL.
And his players delivered en masse, executing the plan to perfection to secure an 8.4.52 to 6.9.45 triumph in an absorbing contest at the home of Peninsula football.
The Tigers had many heroes – none bigger than 19-year-old ruckman Billy Geurts who took home the best-on-ground medal – as they condemned the Sharks to consecutive single-figure losses in the biggest game of the season.
The discipline of players like Jay Hutchinson and Rohan Bleeker bankrolled the Tigers’ success, playing key stopping roles on Sorrento’s stars.
The Tigers led narrowly at the first two changes before booting 3.0 to 0.4 in a pivotal third quarter to open up a 15-point lead. The Sharks threw everything at the contest in the final term but the Tigers held firm to score an upset victory over this year’s ladder leaders.
Geurts typified the Tigers spirit and belief as he enjoyed the post-match celebrations.
“No one really backed us in all year and everyone thought we were just getting lucky every week when we were winning,” he said.
“But we never stopped believing in ourselves all year and to get them by seven points on the big stage is awesome, a great team effort. We have a lot of depth and all just play our role…that’s just the way we play our footy.”
The Tigers’ ruckman acknowledged that sticking with the Sharks in the first half was important, as was a nice psychological boost as the players ran out for the second half.
“We were a point up at half time and the rain was pouring down when we ran back out,” he said.
“That got us up and about because that’s the way we like to play our footy, tough and congested, and we knew those conditions would suit. I think it gave us even more belief that we could get the job done.”
Geurts also acknowledged his family connection at the club, going back-to-back with his brother Sam after the two shared the dais with a third brother Dan last year. And the young gun had some nice words for coach Johnston as well.
“Playing with Sam, and Dan last year, is great, and this is something we can look back on together and really appreciate down the track,” he said.
“And Rikki is a great coach who has taught me so much since I’ve been playing senior footy. We’ve become a really good team and Rikki deserves a lot of the credit for that.”
Best-on-ground medalist Billy Geurts, left, with his brother Sam after Sunday’s epic grand final victory.
In other games, Mt Eliza secured a remarkable sixth-consecutive premiership in the reserves with a 26-point victory over Frankston YCW. Justin Grant won the best-on-ground medal as the Redlegs knocked off the previously undefeated Stonecats for the second time during this year’s finals series.
And a fast start has helped Frankston YCW win the under-19s premiership against Mt Eliza. The Stonecats had four goals on the board in the blink of an eye to open up a 26-point lead at quarter time.
The Redlegs, with best-on-ground medal winner Bayley Cole in great form, cut the deficit throughout the course of the match but fell short – losing 8.5.53 to 6.7.43.
MPNFL DIVISION ONE GRAND FINAL SCORES
Sorrento 1.1 4.2 4.6 6.9.45
Dromana 1.2 4.3 7.3 8.4.52
Sorrento Goals: L. Poholke 2, S. Gladman, J. Hallahan, M. Hallahan, W. Tucker. Best: C. Harris, N. Marston, N. Corp, E. King, S. Gladman, J. Di Pasquale.
Dromana Goals: B. Holmes 3, S. Fowler 2, R. Johnston, J. Hutchinson, E. Johnstone. Best: Billy Geurts (Medal) , J. Hutchinson, D. Marchesani, T. Wheeler, S. Fowler, R. Bleeker.
Mt Eliza 4.2 5.2 8.7 10.7.67
Frankston YCW 1.2 3.4 3.4 6.5.41
Mt Eliza Goals: J. Ristrom 2, A. Smith, M. West, N. Ryan, S. Watson, J. Burgess, L. Fewster, N. Turner, A. Jackson. Best: Justin Grant (Medal), M. West, L. Curtis, N. Turner, J. Ristrom, M. Rea.
Frankston YCW Goals: J. O’Toole 3, J. Theobald, M. Chaplin, J. Pirpiris. Best: Y. Marandos, L. Meyer, B. Marchmont, T. Capp, J. Pirpiris, H. Raphael.
Frankston YCW 4.2 4.3 7.3 8.5.53
Mt Eliza 0.0 1.1 4.3 6.7.43
Frankston YCW Goals: R. Wilkinson 3, Z. Staggard, B. Angwin, R. Steele, J. Paydon, K. Deas. Best: B. Angwin, S. Black, C. de Haas, J. Paydon, J. Berenger.
Mt Eliza Goals: W. Antonie 2, M. Bullock, K. Dalais, L. Boyd, S. Webster. Best Players: Bayley Cole (Medal), A. Foss, M. Bullock, H. Lobb, C. De Merlo, W. Antonie.