IF Koroit’s comeback from a 48-point half-time deficit to win the 2003 grand final was its greatest resurgence, Saturday’s dramatic turnaround must be its second-best.
The Saints were 43 points behind Terang Mortlake at the 23-minute mark of the second term on Saturday when their most ardent supporters conceded hopes of a victory were gone. Even coach Adam Dowie thought it was a case of mission impossible.
Yet Koroit produced a stunning form reversal to claim a seven-point triumph that will be long remembered.
“I’ve never been involved in a game like that ever,” Dowie said after his side’s 8.9 (57) to 7.8 (50) result.
Terang Mortlake dominated the opening half kicking the first seven goals of the game in heavy conditions to lead 7.5 to 0.4 deep into time-on in the second term. Koroit’s only goal for the half came via teenager Willem Drew almost three minutes later, 95 seconds before half-time.
Trailing by 37 points, Dowie gave his players a verbal spray at the long break and made some positional moves that transformed his side.
Koroit then kicked 7.5 to 0.4 in the second half to emerge with what an hour earlier seemed an unlikely victory.
“With conditions like that, it was like 10 goals down, probably more,” Dowie said. “It’s one of those games you think you might get close, you might kick a few goals and get close. I don’t think I ever thought you could win from here. Can you double your score in the last quarter of the game?
“We are going to use this as a reference point now. No matter what happens from here, things couldn’t be any worse than seven goals down at half-time. They got a good spray. I got up them because what they rolled out wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t up to Hampden league standard.”
In the first half Terang Mortlake’s key forward Stephen Staunton was the most influential individual on the ground. His marking was impressive across half-forward as he gave his other forwards plenty of scoring opportunities, including midfielders Wil Pomorin, who kicked two goals, Tom McKenzie (one goal) and hard-working half-forward Jarryd Hay (one).
But in the second half, Koroit — led by skipper Isaac Templeton, teenager Jayden Brennan and Levi Nagorcka in the middle of the ground — got on top. Jayden Whitehead, who was moved on to McKenzie, curbed his effectiveness and created drive for his own side, including an off-break bouncing goal in the third term that kick-started the Saints’ fightback.
Trailing by 26 points at the final change, it wasn’t until teenager James Gow, who was moved forward at half-time, snapped a goal at the seven-minute mark that the Saints found a way through the Bloods’ defence. Taylor Mulraney snapped a goal 79 seconds later and then Gow bounced another through for the Saints’ third goal in less than three minutes to cut the margin to six points.
Then 10 minutes later Koroit’s Sam Dobson marked and goaled from 20 metres out to put the Saints in front for the first time in the game. Jeremy Hausler sealed the result two minutes later with another after marking at the top of the goal square.
Dobson’s goal kick-started his 21st birthday party celebrations a couple of hours earlier than planned, describing the winning feeling as the best he had been involved in.
“I don’t normally celebrate a goal but I did have a little one. I just got caught up in it,” he said.