PHILLIP Island has the chance to walk away with three of the four football premierships on Saturday, with the Seniors, Thirds and Fourths all fighting it out on that one day in September.
Koo Wee Rup is the only team to defeat Phillip Island twice during the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition senior home and away season in 2018 but the Bulldogs’ performance in the second semi-final suggests they are the firm favourite for Saturday’s grand final.
The Bulldogs under new coach Beau Vernon have been the constant improvers all season, with early losses to Koo Wee Rup, Garfield and Nar Nar Goon all distant memories as they marched into the finals with an eight-game winning streak.
The Island has a great line up right across the ground with league best and fairest Brendan Kimber and club stalwart Jaymie Youle patrolling the midfield, Zak Vernon providing plenty of run and carry off half back and big man Nic Higginson in the ruck.
But perhaps the most surprising combination for the Bulldogs this season has been the work of young guns Aaron Edwards and Jack Taylor up forward.
The pair have kicked 29 and 37 goals respectively and really put their mark on the Demons defence in the second semi-final, Edwards putting on a clinic with a bag of four goals.
The pair were barely 18 when they played in the 2014 Alberton premiership and now maturing in their early 20s the boys will be keen to kick some snags on the big day.
But premierships never come easy and the Demons showed exactly what they’re capable of with a solid 10-point victory in a hard-fought battle with Nar Nar Goon in the preliminary final.
Trailing at half time the Demons were staring down the barrel of a straight sets exit, but with experienced finals players like Jason Wells and Anthony Giuliano on the park you can never count the Demons out.
Wells is the key for the Demons, the league’s leading goal kicker with 88 goals to date has been the heart and soul of the Koo Wee Rup team.
What he lacks in size he makes up for with lightning quick leg speed and amazing aerial ability. A couple of early goals and the livewire forward will be near impossible to contain.
But the Demons have other tricks. Young forward/mid Nathan Voss has turned plenty of heads this season with his silky skills and pace to burn, turning himself into a real X-factor for the Demons.
Nathan Muratore is the general in defence and will likely get the job on Jack Taylor in the early going and could move up the ground if all is going to plan.
Three-time Cora Lynn premiership player Anthony Giuliano knows exactly what it takes to get the job done on the biggest stage and will be one to keep an eye out for on Saturday.
The reigning reserves premiers Koo Wee Rup have been all the rage again in season 2018 dropping just the two games for the year.
However, one of those losses came at the hands of Inverloch Kongwak, the same team that’ll be going head to head with the Demons on grand final day.
After a disappointing 63-point thumping in the second semi-final, IK bounced back with a gritty 28-point win over Nar Nar Goon and have the potential to shock the highflying Demons.
Midfielder Travis Bergmeier and utility James Sheerin were easily the Sea Eagles’ best players on the weekend and the pair will be relied upon again in the grand final.
Pat Jobling will also be a big target up forward, with pocket rockets Lachie Johnson and Josh Truman hopefully carrying their good prelim form into the big dance.
The star-studded Demons line up is spearheaded by reserves league best and fairest Matt Cameron who the Sea Eagles will need to stop early if they are any chance of causing an upset.
Similar to the reserves, Cora Lynn has dominated the thirds division all season dropping just one game and finishing two games clear on top of the ladder.
But that one loss came at the hands of Phillip Island who snatched a seven-point victory all the way back in Round 8.
The Island will be riding a wave of momentum heading into Saturday’s grand final after a thrilling victory over Garfield in the prelim.
Billy Taylor’s two goals and a clutch mark from Nic Anderson secured the victory, with both young men expected to play big roles in the Island’s fight for the ultimate.
Maxx Mattock has had a terrific season as has Connor Thompson, both finished in the top five in the league’s best and fairest count.
Cora Lynn are a military style line up with every player knowing exactly what to do and when to do it, thanks to the terrific coaching of Shaun Sparks who also coached the thirds interleague team.
In the fourths it’s all about Phillip Island, after finishing the year on top they will be hoping to cap off the season with a premiership.
They’ll be coming up against Koo Wee Rup who put in a solid 47-point winning performance against Nar Nar Goon in the prelim.
Led by league best and fairest Nic Prowd, the Demons will be aiming for an upset against the quality Bulldogs line up.
Josh Ryan will be one to keep an eye on for the Bulldogs, finishing fifth in the league best and fairest, the speedster always gathers plenty of possessions.
Garfield will be playing host to the big dance with the fourths kicking off the day at 9am.
Islanders into grand final
PHILLIP Island defeated Korumburra-Bena 50 to 34 in Saturday’s preliminary final at Garfield and will now meet Dalyston in the grand final.
The Island, with a full-strength team this week, went into the game as firm favourites, a position that has rarely happened over the past few years when playing Korumburra-Bena.
The twin towers, Symth (GA) and O’Neill (GS) were back in action in the goal ring for the Bulldogs and were on fire from the first whistle, Symth shooting 10 in the first quarter.
Piera (GD) and Kim Hillberg (GA) for the Giants were having great tussle and it was clear they were going to be going hard at it all game. The Island was up three at the first break.
Both teams kept their positions the same but it was the Island that came out with an increased intensity. Their mid court pressure resulted in a number of Giants turnovers and they capitalised regularly, the Giants defence having no answers for Smyth and O’Neill.
Snooks in WA for the Giants was working hard to provide her team mates with some options, but the Island was up 10 at the main break.
The Giants had to make changes and did so. Reynolds moved into GK and Kyle into GS. The extra height from Reynolds looked a better match for O’Neill and Kyle started the quarter with the first two goals, giving the Giants girls some hope.
Coach Steele, playing in the C, was relentless in her running through the mid court and there was no way she was having any part of a Giants comeback, constantly imploring her troops to keep to task.
Phillip Island well in control at the last break, up 14.
The Island were the ones making changes for the last, fresh legs on to counter any possible Giants run. Donavan (GK) took some telling intercepts early in the quarter and there would be no comeback from the Giants. Phillip Island running out comfortable and deserved winners by 16.
Phillip Island best: Janelle Smyth and Emily Donovan. Korumburra Bena: Kim Hillberg and Jaqui Snooks.
Phillip Island 44 def Bunyip 32.
The early pace was hectic as both teams moved the ball freely when in possession, the scores even at 10 at the first break. Hayley Moxey, GS for the Island had her eye in and was teaming well with Kalis GA.
The Island took a six-goal lead into half time, which was extended to 10 at the going into the last.
Bunyip changed Hynes into GS and it looked to work shooting the first three for the quarter but again they couldn’t make significant inroads on the scoreboard.
Hayley Moxey continued her great shooting and Lindner (GK) with some telling intercepts closed out the match. The Island home by 11.
Phillip Island best: Hayley Moxey and Narelle Lindner.
15 & Under
Phillip Island 28 def Cora Lynn 21.
Both teams looked nervous and took a while to settle. Seven each at quarter time.
Newly crowned league B&F Harris, GD for the Cobras was locked in a great battle with the Island’s Wragg. Phillip Island up three at half time.
Both teams made changes at half time, the Bulldogs moving Wragg back to GS and Pedley to GA which worked a treat, the team shooting 10 to the Cobras’ four, leaving the Island up nine at the final break.
Brisbane was playing great captain’s game for her Bulldogs, owning the centre court. The Cobras looked frustrated but still mounted a late run, mainly off the back of Harris attacking out of the defence but it was too little too late. The Island home by seven.
Phillip Island best: Sunday Brisbane and Amelia Wragg.