Fabulous fourth for South West team
The arrival of ruckman Brendan Page, coupled with a dominant performance from the engine room, helped lift the South West to a fourth consecutive Landmark Country Football Championships title at East Fremantle Oval with a 9.16 (70) to 8.8 (56) victory over Great Northern.
Less than 24 hours after conceding 13 goals in just two quarters in a 24-point loss to the same opponent, the South West showed the resilience and smarts characteristic of a true champion team to regroup and get the job done on the big stage.
Entering the game knowing his side had yet to play its best football, coach Crandon Keddie used his pre-game address to stress the importance of teamwork and limiting the space available to the lightning-fast Great Northern.
With activated emergency Page providing the experience that was missing at times in the round robin stages and supplying classy on-ballers Jesse Gribble, Dan McGinlay and Brayden Lawler with first use of the ball, it did not take long for the South West to gain ascendancy.
Player of the carnival McGinlay opened the scoring early, starting a move up the wing before receiving a handball and running into the 50-metre arc to kick the first major of the game.
Bulldogs' recruit Aidan Parker added his eighth goal of the competition from a strong overhead mark before missing wide right a minute later from the same position.
Great Northern then showed just how dangerous they could be given the opportunity, punishing a pair of sloppy South West disposals to kick two quick goals through Leith Teakle and Dale Wallam.
Parker supplied Bunbury teammate Marc Re to give the South West a slim 3.4 (22) to 2.2 (14) lead at quarter-time, before snapping the first goal of the second term himself after gathering a spilled Shaun Crane mark.
Inaccuracy in front of goals, the only glaring negative from an otherwise outstanding performance, came to the fore for the rest of the quarter with the South West creating opportunities but only managing four behinds to two Great Northern goals.
The third quarter belonged to best-on-ground Gribble, the bustling midfielder with a hand in goals to Crane, Re and Parker before booting one himself to extend his side's lead to 20 with one term to play.
Great Northern pegged back two majors through Dale Williamson and Luke Dowling, but with Mat Michael, Jon Meadmore, Matt Blackford and Will Oelsnik standing tall in defence and the rotating midfield cutting off supply, that was as close as the fourth quarter got.
Fittingly, it was Gribble who set up the clincher, taking a mark on a half-forward flank before calmly picking out midfielder Tim Ioannou, who supplied Re for a goal on the siren.
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