ONE statistic shows how important the backline was to lifting Panmure to the Warrnambool and District league premiership.
The Bulldogs actually had fewer inside-50 entries than Dennington, 42 to 44, but managed 10 more scoring shots in their 13.13 (91) to 5.11 (41) triumph at Reid Oval.
The efforts of sergeant-at-arms Tim McPherson and his back-six teammates are a major reason the boys in blue, red and white are celebrating back-to-back flags.
McPherson, 20, won the Scott Stewart Medal for keeping Dennington forward Chris Keilar to just two goals, but he was not alone holding firm in defence.
Teammates Dan Meade, Jordan Brown, Tim Condon, Nathan Shand and Jeremy Bidmade were also instrumental in repelling whatever attacks came their way.
The fortunes of the two attacks reflected the lopsided nature of the grand final.
Panmure was able to find avenues to goal by hitting up leading forwards with the short passes they have become renowned for.
By contrast, Dennington too often searched for Keilar — who had McPherson on his tail and another backman crowding his space.
“The whole backline, it’s been a team within a team this year,” McPherson said, highlighting the value of stability in premiership sides.
McPherson, a recruit from Warrnambool into his second season at Panmure, said he did not believe he would win a best-afield medal.
He nominated teammates Jye Bidmade, Chris Bant and Meade as more worthy of the accolades but was pleased he could play a role.
The two goals he conceded were both from free kicks. Few times, if any, he was beaten one-on-one.
Keilar was in the Dogs’ best, and deservedly so. But the bulk of his good work came up the ground.
He was far from as damaging as Panmure full-forward Gary Robinson, who finished with four majors and presented well all day.
McPherson said Panmure winning back-to-back flags was “massive”.
“It’s a bit different to last year, it was relief last year because we just got over the line,” McPherson said.
“This year we could soak it in a bit more. It was really good to go back-to-back with a great bunch of guys.”
Meade, 29, agreed.
“It’s a great feeling, everyone gets along, has a good time. It’s the same with cricket and football,” he said.
Meade said the defensive effort was collective. His direct opponent was Alex Pye but he played down his own efforts.
“We looked at the ones who were dangerous and we tried to work as a team in the backline, like we’ve done all year,” he said.
“I did my job, that’s all I tried to do.
“You’ve got to do your job, that’s what you’re there for.”