Gisborne under-18s win grand final thriller against Sandhurst
by Nathan Dole
THE young stars from Gisborne and Sandhurst played a memorable under-18s football clash to kick off the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s grand final day.
Just three points separated the Bulldogs and Dragons at the end of a superb match at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The Bulldogs had most of the play in the opening term, but Sandhurst led 2.1 to 1.6 at the first break.
A run of three unanswered goals put Sandhurst in control before Gisborne scored the next two in the second quarter.
The competition’s leading goalkicker, Sandhurst’s James Vlaeminck showed plenty of skill just before the half-time siren.
Awarded a free kick in the scoreboard pocket, Vlaeminck played on and kicked truly from an acute angle.
It was to be the best of a match-high eight goals by the Dragons young gun.
The third quarter was marked by a goalscoring blitz by Gisborne.
The Bulldogs slammed on 8.3 to 2.0 and held a 31-point lead going into the final term.
Gisborne’s buffer soon became six goals.
Sandhurst’s fighting spirit was to the fore as it continually pumped the ball to the city end goal.
The Dragons added 5.5 to a point, but it was Gisborne which held on to win 12.15 (87) to 13.6 (84).
Harrison Jones led Gisborne’s attack on five goals as Roby Lane and Baxter Slater kicked two, and Sam McCaskill, Darby Pemberton and Riley Vernon added a goal apiece.
In Sandhurst’s forward line it was Vlaeminck who dominated as Lachlan Baker, Angus Dickson, Zac Featherby, Thomas Kay and Sean O’Farrell were also on target.
Liam Spear was named Gisborne’s best as Flynn Lakey, Harrison Jones, Jack Ozanne, Sebastien Bell-Bartels and Patrick De Ruiter also starred for the red, white and blue.
The talented Baxter Slater added a premiership medal to the George Symons Medal he earned as the league’s best and fairest.
Sandhurst’s best were Ben Worme, James Vlaeminck, Thomas Kay, Jeremy Ellis, Zac Featherby and Blaze Houlden.
The Rod Ashman Medal was presented to James Vlaeminck.
Gisborne’s Liam Spear earned the Worksafe AFL Victoria Medal.
In a touch of irony, Gisborne’s team included Sam McCaskill, a famous name at Sandhurst where the legendary Bob McCaskill coached the Dragons to an incredible run of senior premierships from the late 1920s and through the 1930s.