Belci flies in flag de­cider

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

WANGARATTA Rovers and Beechworth’s Alessan­dro Belci are the 2018 Ovens and Mur­ray un­der 18 pre­miers.

Belci helped lead the Hawks to the premier­ship af­ter with­stand­ing a fierce sec­ond half come­back from Yar­ra­wonga to de­feat the Pi­geons by 11 points in a thrilling con­test at the Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta on Sun­day.

The Hawks led by 37 points at the main break af­ter a bril­liant first half, how­ever, the Pi­geons surged back into the con­test with a six-goal burst in the third term.

Both sides looked out on their feet with the sun shin­ing on a beau­ti­ful Norm Minns Oval sur­face and the ball seemed to spend most of its time go­ing be­tween half back and half for­ward.

But when the game needed a match win­ner, Leo Dean Medal­list Ed Day­man quite lit­er­ally stood tall for the Wangaratta team.

Day­man marked ev­ery­thing that came his way in the fi­nal quar­ter and capped off a best on ground dis­play to win the Brett Kirk Medal by kick­ing the only goal of the fi­nal quar­ter.

With the Rovers lead­ing by just four points, Day­man took his sev­enth con­tested mark for the day and while he was nes­tled tight in the for­ward pocket, he made no mis­take from about 40 me­tres out.

The goal seemed to take the sting out of the Pi­geons’ charge and with the siren sound­ing mo­ments later, it capped of an 11.12 (78) to 10.7 (67) vic­tory for the Hawks.

The win also ex­tracted re­venge for the Hawks, who were beaten by the Pi­geons in the sec­ond semi fi­nal, how­ever, the end re­sult prob­a­bly shouldn’t have been as tight as it was.

With the pres­sure right up at the fi­nal change, Rovers coach Ja­son Gor­man told his play­ers not to panic and to trust the sys­tems that had served them so well this sea­son.

And af­ter the first 15 min­utes saw the Hawks with­stand ev­ery­thing the Pi­geons could throw at them, it was fit­ting that Day­man iced the match with the only goal.

The vic­tory was the Hawks’ first un­der 18 premier­ship since 2008 and ended what had been a tough sea­son for the club on a bright note.

Belci, who crossed over from play­ing a hand­ful of games at Wodonga Raiders and Beechworth Bushrangers in 2017, showed the tenac­ity and poise on the big stage to be proud of his im­pact on the game.

His hard­ness at the ball and craft with ball in hand was vi­tal in crit­i­cal mo­ments of the match.

Belci will head into his top-age thirds year in 2019.

PHOTO: Marc Bongers

PREMIER­SHIP PLAYER: Alessan­dro Belci (right) em­braces team­mate Har­ri­son McCarthy af­ter the Ovens and Mur­ray thirds’ grand fi­nal.

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