Dons break drought, Hay bows out

Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Dons coach Julian Burgess holds the SWFL league cup aloft with skipper Shane Cristaldi.
Camera IconDons coach Julian Burgess holds the SWFL league cup aloft with skipper Shane Cristaldi. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

Donnybrook ended their 18 year SWFL premiership drought with a dominating 39 point victory over Bunbury on Sunday at Hands Oval.

The Dons led from start to finish, with Brett Eades booting six goals in their 16.16 (112) to 11.7 (73) triumph.

After dominating the early minutes, the lively forward extended the Dons’ overall ascendancy when he burst to life at the 11 minute mark of the opening term.

In a spellbinding six minute spell, Eades booted 3.1 from five marks as the Bulldogs defence struggled to contain him.

It was a burst which led to further brilliance and ensured he won the Pike Medal for a best on ground display.

Despite always appearing to be in control, the Dons weathered a valiant second half from the Bulldogs, with Jesse Gribble single handily trying in vain to lift his side back off the canvas.

But once the full-time siren sounded, an afternoon full of contrasting emotions on and off the field continued.

The playing career of beloved Bulldogs skipper Codey Hay came to an end, with the charismatic full back announcing his retirement on Friday night to the playing group.

Meanwhile for the victors, Dons coach Julian Burgess beamed with pride as he reflected on a memorable season.

“We set ourselves for good starts every week and we managed to get out to one this week,” he said.

“The pressure the boys brought in the first five to 10 minutes, which is something we strive to do, came off.”

Bulldogs coach Jamie Nani was magnanimous in defeat.

“It was a disappointing first half — but they were very good in the first half,” he said.

“And we let them play the way they wanted to. We didn’t play our footy. In the second half, obviously we were a long way back but we stuck at it.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault recorded a thrilling one point victory over Eaton Boomers in the reserves grand final, while Bunbury defeated Busselton by 60 points in the colts decider.

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