DENNINGTON defender Luke Duncan wants game 200 to be memorable for one reason — a win will earn the Dogs a grand final berth.
Duncan, 33, said the Dogs had a sense of “unfinished business” entering Saturday’s Warrnambool and District league preliminary final against Panmure.
The Dogs fell two points shy of a grand final spot in 2012 after Duncan’s after-the-siren kick from outside 50 fell short, consigning them to a heartbreaking loss to the Bulldogs.
They went one better last year, making the grand final only to again succumb to Panmure.
Duncan watched the decider from the sidelines after an ACL injury in April ended his campaign prematurely.
“Being the age I am — I was 32 when I did it — I thought that was it and watching the boys in the granny last year, I thought, I couldn’t retire,” Duncan said. “Especially with the playing group we have. It’s pretty much the same playing group we’ve had the last four or five years.
“We have come close so many times.”
Duncan returned to the Dogs’ line-up this season to play a key role at centre half-back.
He started in attack before switching to defence, allowing former coach Darcy Lewis to hold down a key position in the forward line.
“I wasn’t confident,” Duncan said of getting back to full fitness after 12 months on the sidelines.
“I had the operation in April and it wasn’t until Christmas-time that my body started feeling good and I started to get into training.
“Then it went in leaps and bounds.”
Duncan said the chance to play Panmure in another final was a challenge Dennington was eager to accept.
“We match up pretty well with Panmure,” he said.
“We definitely go in as underdogs and that’s how we like it.”
Duncan said the 200-game milestone was significant to him, given his strong connection to the Dogs.
He has played all bar one year — he spent a season at Mininera and District league club Wickliffe-Lake Bolac — at Dennington after playing his juniors at North Warrnambool Eagles.
“It is pretty rewarding to stay at one club and get to 200 games,” he said.
“It is something you do try and achieve and (it’s good) to still be playing seniors.”