THE Phillip Island Bulldogs have remained undefeated all year to take out the 2019 Premiership Cup from Cora Lynn by just four points.
The reigning premiers’ talented mids, strong defenders and skilful forwards had the ball in their end, as they finally faced off against their round nine rivals Cora Lynn – where they drew – for the 2019 premiership.
The matchups were set, hitting out this super-sized battle were the ruckmen, Phillip Island’s and the league B&F, Cameron Pedersen facing Cora Lynn’s William ‘Billy’ Thomas who swapped with Troy Tharle.
These ruckmen are a focal point for both sides, Phillip Island; reigning champion, undefeated all year, talented and dangerous – opposed by Cora Lynn; hardworking, multi-faceted and relentless – this matchup was critical to what would follow.
Pedersen started by holding his ground, his well-earthed approach was hard to negotiate as his superior body movement found superior position.
Thomas was unfazed; Pedersen was winning the taps but he wasn’t dominating.
Thomas’ work earnt him best on ground, his efforts second to none for his team. Time would tell if it was enough.
The Garfield ground had maintained an excellent surface, with near-perfect grass, no mud and one small puddle on the far side of the pavillion.
What had earlier been a two-goal breeze had reduced, blowing from behind the pavilion, slightly favouring the goals away from town.
The stage was set, with thousands of spectators after an electrifying reserves game, it was now the seniors’ turn.
Big names and former teammates, Phillip Island’s Brendan Kimber and Cora Lynn’s Nathan Langley set the scoreboard alight.
No second thoughts for these two highly experienced finals players.
Raising the tempo, Pedersen now took flight and his dominance allowed three Island goals from three individual kickers: Alex Duyker, Jordy Patullo and Billy Taylor.
Langley’s solo goal for the Cobras was a lifeline with the Bulldogs up by almost four goals at the first break.
And whenever Hayden Bruce got his hands on the ball, good things happened. He linked with Billy Taylor who did his thing, snagging his second.
What came next was a shift of momentum with great style.
From the backline, defender Shaun Sparkes set out with a characteristic clearance, linking with Jaxon Briggs and Travis Woodfield. Cora Lynn finally hit the scoreboard with Jackson Dalton.
This powerful swing set the tone for another goal to come from the man of the moment Billy Thomas.
But it was Bruce who called the next shot, he closed the second term with a goal and steadied the Island into the main break, up by 20 points.
The third term opened with impressive back-to-back goals from Jordy Patullo.
Cora Lynn were then trailing by 22 points – the biggest margin seen all day.
But then the Cobras rose to the challenge with spiritual leader Nathan Gardiner.
Heath Briggs and Jai Rout put it on the table, one each, to reduce the margin to 14 points at the end of the third term.
Vernon revved up his boys for the final term.
It was brother Zak Vernon who tallied his first, six minutes into the term, as Phillip Island looked to sit comfortably.
The double team of Cora Lynn’s Thomas with Tharle seemed to wear down the dominate hand of Pedersen.
Tharle made it known his ability as he kicked his first goal, shortly followed by Jackson Dalton.
Reducing the margin to eight points, Phillip Island acted swiftly through Jaymie Youle, Matt Jackson and Ben Hamilton to defensively counter their opponents and fight for the flag.
But out of the hustle, Ryan Spierings made his mark – scoring to reduce the margin below a goal.
It was truly on the table now, Phillip Island saw the capability of the relentless Cobras.
Simmering in the forward pocket, in and out to the wing and returning.
Marcus Wright held a tackle around Wallace, the ball went up, and then the siren blew.
What can’t be described in words for the Island was equal and opposite for the battling Cobras.
Phillip Island made history for their back-to-back premierships along with the Thirds and Fourths flags.
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