Blues claim back-to-back flags

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - SPORT -

It was not one for the ages, but Pi­cola United claimed back-to-back Pi­cola District Foot­ball League north-west pre­mier­ships on Satur­day.

An in­spired third term from sub­sti­tute Kian Wise, 16, helped United kick six unan­swered goals to set up suc­ces­sive grand fi­nal vic­to­ries against Strath­mer­ton.

Jon Var­coe’s men were gal­lant in the se­cond term hold­ing off a Bull­dogs on­slaught be­fore Wise’s three goals and an as­sist in the de­ci­sive premier­ship quar­ter en­sured the top side pre­vailed.

Fi­nal score Pi­cola Utd 11.4 (70) to Strath­mer­ton 7.10 (52).

Bull­dogs ruck­man Max Can­field was awarded best-on-ground af­ter star­ring in the ruck, kick­ing two goals and tak­ing am­ple marks across the vast ex­panses at Blighty.

Matt Shan­non and Lewis O’Sul­li­van were ever present across half-back for the Bull­dogs, while John Walker was un­doubt­edly United’s best.

Walker, who spent most of the game in de­fence, floated as a loose man, tak­ing a num­ber of packs marks while ush­er­ing his troops for­ward with re­bound foot­ball.

Coach Jon Var­coe said there was plenty of re­lief at the fi­nal siren, hav­ing been at the helm of the club for both pre­mier­ships.

‘‘The mo­ment af­ter the game was re­ally quite amaz­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘There was a lot of re­lief and ex­cite­ment amongst the group, es­pe­cially af­ter our re­serves ended up win­ning fairly well.

‘‘For two teams to achieve a premier­ship on the same day was a mas­sive step for­ward for the club, and it was in­cred­i­ble cel­e­brat­ing the oc­ca­sion to­gether. ‘‘It made the day bet­ter be­cause of that.’’ Scott Miles de­liv­ered the game’s first goal for United and one soon be­came two for Var­coe’s side in a low-scor­ing quar­ter as Dy­lan Cunningham dou­bled his side’s lead.

The Bull­dogs dom­i­nated the se­cond term, but they were left to rue their missed op­por­tu­ni­ties kick­ing 1.5 to United’s one ma­jor.

De­spite their in­ac­cu­racy, the Bull­dogs man­aged to close the mar­gin from 10 points to five at half-time, but af­ter that, it was all one-way traf­fic when the game was there to be won.

Adam Jor­gensen, 17, and avail­able to play for the Mur­ray Bushrangers, snagged a goal in the first and third quar­ters, while Tom Byrnes, Ash Wel­don and Wise ran riot in a piv­otal third term where United jumped out to a 35-point lead.

The diminu­tive Wise broke the game open for United, kick­ing two snap goals on his non-pre­ferred left foot, be­fore cooly slot­ting his third from di­rectly in front.

It was al­most 20 min­utes be­tween Can­field’s and Ty­ron Hill’s ma­jor late in the third term, which snapped a streak of six unan­swered goals for the even­tual pre­miers.

Two fi­nal-term goals from Adrian Crestani, one from Hill and Can­field helped the Bull­dogs fight back late, but the dam­age had al­ready been done. Pi­cola man­aged a premier­ship dou­ble af­ter de­feat­ing Strath­mer­ton in the Pi­cola District Foot­ball League north-west re­serves grand fi­nal.

Pi­cola were bril­liant from the out­set, kick­ing three goals in the open­ing term to even­tu­ally win 13.8 (86) to 5.9 (39).

The 47-point vic­tory meant United, who com­peted in three of the four grades, se­cured vic­tory in the two open age di­vi­sions.

Matt Atkin­son starred in the re­serves, kick­ing three goals from mid­field.

Travis Gilby, Noah Glanville, best-on­ground Ben Reid and Darcy O’Neill all fin­ished with two ma­jors as United kept the Bull­dogs goal­less in the third term.

Daniel Allen was lively up for­ward for the Bull­dogs, kick­ing two of his side’s five goals, while Lance Crowe worked tire­lessly.

In a bat­tle be­tween first and se­cond, it was the lad­der lead­ers who proved the grand­est of sides on the big­gest of stages.

Pi­cola United cel­e­brate their premier­ship win. Photo cour­tesy David Jackson.

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