INVERLOCH-Kongwak crowned its dramatic improvement over the course of the 2013 season in the Under 15s with a runaway victory in last Saturday’s Alberton league grand final. Although its opponents, Korumburra-Bena, finished the season undefeated on top of the ladder, it was second-placed IK which took all before it in the final series. After coming on strong to win the second semi-final two weeks ago, the Sea Eagles clearly benefitted from having the week off to sharpen up its preparations because the team really turned it on in the grand final. Korumburra-Bena’s players ran through a banner bearing the laudable sentiment “Respect all, fear none” and they carried that into the match to compete strongly throughout.
However, after an even first quarter in which the two teams traded goals in a tight defensive contest, IK’s taller, mobile players, including Cam McKenzie, Oscar Toussaint, Xavier Hughes and Zane Javier started to break the lines in the second quarter and then cracked the game open after half time with creative, high-standard footy. IK started the match peppering the scoring zone with their on-ballers including ruckman McKenzie, and Oscar Toussaint, Hutton and Taylor giving them plenty of drive. Javier tipped one over the back to small forward Jack Hutchinson who ran on to the loose ball and popped it through. McKenzie out of the centre to Hutchinson and they were into attack again after the next centre bounce. The Bulldogs boys were defending stoutly with the likes of Cam Trewin, Hugh Suckling, Jasper Macri, Blake Walker, Tom Trewin and Jack Ellams getting some early touches. Matt Kennewell and Ellams combined to get the ball forward where a good aerial contest by key forward Dylan Crook had the ball out the back to Jack Anderson who roved the pack to perfection for the answering goal.
But IK’s players were starting to flip the creative handpasses around with the likes of Oscar Toussaint, Taylor, McKenzie, Xavier Hughes and Javier all getting into the action. Good defensive work by the Bulldogs’ Austin Gurnett held them up but Oscar’s long, long bomb for a goal was reward for effort. Although IK looked to have a better system when going into attack, Korumburra-Bena had their best time with the ball towards the end of the first term and really should have had a goal through Crook who’d marked well only to see the decision reversed. Hugh Suckling snapped well only to see it saved on the line by Steve Wallace of IK. It was ‘game on’ though as the boys went to the first huddle. Shortly after the restart, the Bulldogs’ spearhead Crook made up for his indiscretion with a goal after the team had attacked for points in the opening minutes and the Burra were momentarily in front. There followed the most interesting part of the match as the two teams battled for supremacy; Trewin, Suckling, Macri, Walker, Snooks and co among those defending stoutly for the Bulldogs and IK threatening to take control through the likes of Andre Toussaint, McKenzie, Taylor, Oscar Toussaint and others.
Cam McKenzie proved he could contribute all over the ground when he affected a fine smother deep in the Dogs’ forward zone. But it was IK which broke the deadlock with two goals in quick succession near the end of the second term to McKenzie after a towering mark and Oscar Toussaint on the run. They had the momentum going into the second half and ran away with the game, displaying the full range of skills, gaining in confidence as they kicked clear and bringing all of the younger players into the action with creative hand passes and kicks to position. Korumburra-Bena continued to defend strongly all the way led by Gurnett, Wylie, Celebrine and others but IK was full of running and went away to a convincing 45-point victory. A magnanimous IK coach, Simon Mullins, afterwards praised the Korumburra-Bena team for their efforts and the spirit in which the game was played. Final scores: Inverloch-Kongwak 13.3.81 to Korumburra-Bena 5.6.36.