Bunbury win 2017 Premiership
BUNBURY broke a 16-year premiership drought with an emphatic 50-point victory over favourites Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault at Hands Oval on Sunday.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start and never looked back, holding the Lions to the lowest score in grand final history in the 10.8 (68) to 2.6 (18) win.
The Lions pulled the surprise of the day before the first bounce, dropping co-captain David Newman, while Jonathan Fenwick also missed out as Jordan Sell and Ty Armitage came into the team.
This moved proved painful for the Lions, who missed the experience of Newman in the back half in the wet and windy conditions.
Both teams struggled for ascendency in the first 13 minutes, before an opportunistic goal from Bunbury’s Brett Peake opened the flood gates. Bunbury began to take control of the game, winning the clearances and getting the ball up the field as far as they could with each possession.
Harry Creasey (two goals) and Matt Martin (four goals) both got on the scoreboard, while the Lions struggled to get the ball past the centre.
Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault lifted in the second term and a goal from defender-turned-forward Brayden Prentice gave the Lions some hope.
But the Lions could not turn their dominance of play into scoreboard pressure and their undisciplined actions began to cost them, with a number of yellow cards handed out.
One such instance gave Pike Medallist Aidan Clarke (three goals) a 50m penalty to give Bunbury a goal against the run of play. Armitage was sent from the field with a second yellow card soon after for striking Braiden McMullen after the former kicked the Lions’ second goal.
Bunbury went into the break with a strong lead and the fitness to run over the Lions, who were struggling in the wet conditions.
It took 13 minutes before the first goal of the second half was scored, but when Martin booted his second from long range the game seemed to have swung the Dogs’ way again.
Creasey, McMullen and Cameron Lamonaca dominated around the clearances, while co-captain Codey Hay and his fellow defenders in Matt Doherty and Kane Bumann were resolute in defence.
Clarke kicked his second in fine-style and the Bulldogs were just a quarter away from the premiership.
It was all Bunbury in the last term, with Martin booting another two goals and Clarke adding his third, as well as taking mark of the year to extend the lead and the pain for the Lions.
Bunbury coach Jamie Nani admitted after the game that he did not think this young group would win a flag so quickly.
“To go from bottom of the ladder, to fifth and then to win a flag is beyond my dreams,” he said.
Nani said as a coaching group the Dogs got their match-ups right.
“We changed things and the boys were just outstanding,” he said.
“I wanted a good, hard start early on. I wanted them to set it up early in the match.
“The way we played in the wet was really good.”
Nani credited Pike Medallist Aidan Clarke for his performance.
“Clarkey was very good,” he said.
“He started the year in that sort of form, but to have one more in him for the final game of the year was great.”
For Hay it was his first flag in 13 years of league football with the Dogs and he was proud of the young group.
“I don’t think anyone tipped us to win all year,” he said.
Peake, who played in two AFL Grand Finals, said this win was special.
“I have known Jamie for about seven years and he messaged me at the right time,” he said.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails