PANMURE has emerged from one of the great Warrnambool and District league grand finals with the 2012 premiership cup in its grasp.
The Bulldogs triumphed over Kolora-Noorat by four points in a thrilling and memorable grand final on Saturday at the Reid Oval.
It was Panmure’s fourth Warrnambool and District league premiership and first since 2002.
For Kolora-Noorat the 9.4 (58) to 7.12 (54) defeat brought to an end its dreams of winning four straight premierships but the Power walked off the ground gallant losers.
It was a grand final that promised so much and delivered even more, with not even wind and rain spoiling the party.
A strong cross breeze was blowing towards the far pocket to the college end of the ground and it was Kolora-Noorat which won the toss of the coin and chose to kick that way. In the last two grand finals the Power had set up their victories with big first quarters so Panmure was desperate to ensure it didn’t concede too much early ground.
It was a frantic start as both teams traded control of the ball through the middle and it took a couple of moments of class from Kolora-Noorat centre half-forward Sam Moloney to influence the contest. Moloney stepped up with two goals to give the Power the early break, although they were unable to extend that margin to beyond 16 points at quarter-time despite keeping Panmure scoreless.
The scoring drought for Panmure continued into the early part of the second quarter and it took until the 12-minute mark for the Bulldogs to post their first score when Gary Robinson marked and converted. A clever goal from Murray Ellerton followed soon after and when centre half- forward Daniel Roache snapped a goal at the 21-minute mark Panmure had levelled the score. With the challenge being thrown down, it was Sam Moloney who again stepped up for the Power with a strong mark and 30-metre goal giving his team a six-point half-time lead.
As it so often does, the third quarter shaped as a defining one, with the Power looking to open up a break and the Bulldogs aiming to keep them in check. Early signs were good for the Power when star forward Mark Clissold marked and goaled two minutes in but Panmure had a quick answer through a Robinson goal.
At the nine-minute mark Stephen O’Connor capped a chain of handballs and kicked a long goal for the Power and when Clissold again marked and kicked truly with 15 minutes gone, Kolora-Noorat had slipped out to a 19-point lead. The big question was now being asked of Panmure and it didn’t take long for the answer. Adam O’Keefe kicked the first comeback goal from a free kick at the 20-minute mark and this sparked his team with two goals to Chris Bant and one more to Robinson on the siren giving Panmure a five-point lead. Fittingly, the season had come down to a last-quarter stoush.
With everything on the line, both teams gave all they had and then some more to try and wrestle the slightest advantage. The immense pressure that was being applied meant it took until the 20-minute mark for the first goal to be scored. Sam Moloney was again the man for the Power when he took a mark from 40 metres out and sent forward a mongrel punt that somehow avoided the grasping hands of the Panmure defenders to give his team a four-point lead.
The next centre clearances was vital and the Power’s Stephen O’Connor looked to be charging away with it until a cruel bounce saw the ball elude his fingertips. Panmure was able to steal it away and take it forward, where captain Sam Mahony kicked a behind to reduce the margin to three points.
Time was ticking away but it was a couple of old hands who stood up when it was needed. Tim Condon and Nathan Shand were part of the previous Panmure premiership in 2002 and the pair showed all their experience to keep cool heads and combine for the winning goal. Condon won the ball at centre half-forward and calmly weaved a handball through the congestion to Shand, who took a split second to settle before kicking a running goal from 45 metres to put his team three points ahead.
A point soon after to Robinson extended the margin to four points.