IT may have taken longer than expected, but Merrivale got the prize it was after on Saturday.
The Tigers won a drama-filled A grade grand final, downing Dennington 36-27.
After a series of injury time-outs and a change of court, the game fittingly finished in bizarre fashion with the buzzer struggling and players left looking around for answers before Merrivale players threw their arms in the air in jubilation.
The game finished at 3.55pm — just under an hour after it was scheduled to end.
Merrivale, desperate to atone for its 2011 grand final loss to South Rovers, conceded the first two goals of the match as Dennington goal shooter Lana Barling used her height to counter the windy conditions which swept Reid Oval.
The Tigers piled on the next five goals to assert their authority.
The Dogs then pegged two back before the Tigers finished the term strongly and took a 9-4 advantage into the first break.
A strong opening was a focus for Merrivale coach Danielle McInerney.
“One of our main things was to get a good start because when Dennington have won they’ve had a good start and when we’ve had a good start we’ve played well,” she said.
“So first quarter was our focus from day one. Get that, cross that out and move from there.
“We had a few lapses but because we had that lead we were able to compose ourselves. The last quarter was probably their best quarter. A few of us were cramping up.”
The Tigers had a blistering start to the second term, piling on five unanswered goals as the Dogs’ passing let them down.
The Merrivale goal combination of Kelly Hynes and McInerney was working well for the Tigers before Dennington goal keeper Sue Fleming went down with a suspected Achilles injury with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Fleming was covered in blankets and comforted as an ambulance was called.
Play was moved to Reid Oval’s second court and Jane Perry filled Fleming’s void in defence. Dennington coach Josie Bolden said Perry rose to the challenge.
“Jane did an absolutely marvellous job to come on, especially in a grand final of all games, and she took it on with both hands and did a really good job,” Bolden said. More drama ensued when Merrivale’s Jodi Keane called an injury time-out and wasn’t involved in the change.
It came at a time when Dennington had found some rhythm, shooting three of the past four goals.
Merrivale led 21-10 at half-time.
Dennington wing defence Melissa Lewis called a time-out in the third term after a fall but was able to return to the court.
Merrivale had a match-winning 14-goal lead at three-quarter-time.
The final term was Dennington’s best as it added 10 goals to cut the final deficit to nine.