GLENROWAN WINS RECORD FOURTH STRAIGHT O&K SENIOR FOOTBALL GRAND FINAL
Kelly Tigers make history with fourth straight premiership
Glenrowan centre half forward Nick Hearn (left) wasn’t going to let Benalla’s Riley Moran get the better of him during Saturday’s Ovens and King Football League grand final, played in perfect spring weather before a huge crowd at the WJ Findlay Oval.
His team went on to win its history-making fourth consecutive premiership, 13.12.90 to Benalla All Blacks 6.7.43.
GLENROWAN can rightfully stake its claim as Ovens and King football’s greatest ever team, having done what no other club has managed in the league’s 115-year history.
The Kelly Tigers took their place on the premiership dais for the fourth successive year on Saturday afternoon, sur- passing the achievements of Greta (1965-67), Beechworth (1912-14 and 1937-39) and Moyhu (1909-11) as the league’s triple premiers.
The Tigers earned their place with a comprehensive 47-point victory over Benalla All Blacks, crushing the spirit of their opponents with a dominant first half.
With a strong wind blow- ing towards the river end, the opening quarter was always going to be telling.
Kicking with the breeze the Panthers needed to hit the scoreboard hard early if they were going to be any chance of causing the upset.
Benalla came out strong, with Chris Lockhart, Al Jacka, Sam Newton and Harry Moran all having an impact.
But while the Panthers controlled the majority of the play in the opening term, they failed to capitalise, managing just 1.4 for the period.
At the other end the Tigers made the most of limited opportunities, with Mat Duffy and Matt Robinson both drilling their set shots to give Glenrowan a two-point lead at the first change.
From there the Tigers took control of the contest.
Chris Sussyer gave his midfielders first use, and Karl Norman used the wind to help drive the ball deep into the forward line.
Nick Lawrence was once again picking up touches at will, and Duffy was getting his hands on the ball every time it came inside 50.
A couple of chances went begging for the Tigers before Duffy latched onto a long kick from Norman and set sail from 45m to bring up two flags.
Minutes later an opportunistic left foot snap saw Duffy bring up his third major.
He had a chance to bring up a fourth after a brilliant pass from Matt Robinson, but spilled the mark in the goal square and got his boot to the ball a moment too late.
At the other end Michael Donehue, playing his final game, was doing his best to keep the Panthers within reach, popping through his second goal.
But the another perfect pass from Matt Robinson to Duffy resulted in the enigmatic forward’s fourth goal, which started a red time blitz for the Tigers.
Matt Robinson followed up with an extraordinary right foot snap over his head; Duffy handpassed to Mitch Kilner for a major and Gus Gray kicked truly from 50m as the Tigers added four unanswered goals in time-on to open up a 37-point buffer at the long break.
Making matters worse for the Panthers, Andrew Trende left the field with a leg injury late in the second quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the match.
Benalla needed a massive third quarter to get back into the match, but the Tigers had other ideas, and when Duffy bagged his fifth goal midway through the period the game was as good as done, with the lead out to 49 points.
From there the Tigers were able to just enjoy the game.
While the Panthers never gave up, Glenrowan was far beyond their reach.
The end result was the culmination of five years of toil for Glenrowan.
Nine players won a fourth straight premiership, while another three won their third flag at the club.
Norman was deservedly named best afield for the second time in a premiership victory, with more than 30 possessions in another dominant performance in the middle – the Panthers simply had no answer for him.
Fellow big game player Luke Fox was outstanding in defence, causing half a dozen turnovers with his peerless ability to take intercept marks, while Lawrence capped his brilliant season with another standout display in the middle.
Up forward, the one-two punch of Mat Duffy and Matt Robinson was devastating for Benalla.
Duffy booted 5.2 with one assist, but could have had three more if his teammates had finished.
Robinson kicked 3.0 and had four direct goal assists, with his evasive manoeuvres and field kicking sublime.
MATESHIP: Lifelong friends Mat Duffy and Max Scott embrace following their fourth straight flag together, and (inset) Duffy snaps a goal on his left foot.