The Roosters are rockin' once again.
South Warrnambool has risen to the top of the Hampden league after 12 long years, overcoming a resilient North Warrnambool Eagles 9.13 (67) to 4.8 (32) in the grand final at Reid Oval on Saturday, September 23.
It was a fitting end to a stellar 2023 season from the Roosters, who had put behind them a tough 2022 preliminary final defeat against the Eagles to take the two steps needed to finally be crowned premiers.
Roosters coach Mat Battistello said it was a fantastic feeling to deliver the club its first senior football premiership since 2011.
"It was pretty special," he said. "When the other coaches came down from the coaches' box, I was sort of still coaching the game and they gave me a tap on the shoulder and they said 'we've got it'.
"It was a strange feeling, I always anticipated North to keep coming.
"To the boys' credit, they stuck to what we do really well."
Battistello described last year's preliminary final loss against North as bittersweet considering it eventually led to premiership. The Roosters had early finals exits from 2017 to 2019.
"It was difficult that one," he said. "To take those learnings, adjust and put it into practice this year and end up with a premiership - while we were disappointed last year, it's bittersweet."
The Roosters, who came into the decider fresh off a two-week break, enjoyed a dream start, kicking with the wind and racing out to a five-goal lead by quarter-time.
North Warrnambool Eagles coach Adam Dowie, who implored his players to have faith at quarter-time, tasked them to work harder at stoppages, pressure South and be aggressive.
Despite swinging Jarryd Lewis up forward to try get a different look, the Eagles struggled to translate their second-quarter forward entries into goals, managing only minor scores early.
The loss of veteran Tom Batten to concussion was another blow for the Eagles before Roosters forward Sam Kelly kicked an important goal against the wind.
The Eagles finally broke through late in the term, with Reece Scoble delivering the side its first goal via a free and subsequent 50-metre penalty.
With the Roosters, who looked the cleaner of the two sides, leading by 27 points at half-time, Battistello praised his group's efforts to defend the ground.
"One goal at half-time (for North), just the way we defended was unbelievable and the boys deserve any accolade they get from here," he said.
The contest heated up with both sides bringing pressure to the contest.
Each managed just one goal apiece in the third - from Eagle Judah Greene and Roosters' Kelly, who finished with a game-high three goals - while equally missing some chances to keep the margin at 30 in favour of South at three-quarter-time.
Luke Wines opened the fourth quarter with a goal to give North fans hope but the Roosters quickly responded with one of their own to halt any momentum from the Eagles.
Dan Nicholson, who had been superb all day through the middle to win a best on ground medal, kicked a major which saw the Roosters stretch their lead back to 36 points with 10 minutes to play before Archie Stevens put the icing on the cake with a tough set shot that came off the boot sweetly.
A final goal from Eagle Felix Jones was little consolation as the siren sounded and South Warrnambool soaked up the euphoria of winning the ultimate prize.
Battistello said the win would be duly celebrated by everyone at Friendly Societies' Park.
"To be out of it for 12 years and then have all your football grades in (grand finals), really strong in the netball, you can't have that without being a good organisation off it (the ground)," he said.
"That's what I'm really pleased for - that our supporters, our committee will celebrate it like they've played and I think that's a real credit to the culture we've been able to create."
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