LIONS ROAR IN GRAND FINISH
By CONNOR PAIN
Deer Park created history winning its sixth straight premiership with a comprehensive 12.17. (89) to 6.5. (41) victory.
Chris Stewart was named best on ground, winning the Herb Pascal Medal.
The club’s historic run looked to be coming to an end early in the season with a slow start and the good form of opposition teams such as Altona and Werribee Districts, but as they’ve shown so often over the past six years they can’t be counted out.
Stewart and Kwame McHarg are the only two players to have played in all six flags, a monumental effort.
Grand Final nerves seemingly played a factor in the first quarter as both sides made errors when going forward. Hoppers Crossing struck first with a goal from a free kick.
The Lions had more opportunities when going forward, but in a trend that continued all day, couldn’t maximise their chances that kept the final score from blowing out even further.
The arm wrestle continued into the second quarter, neither side able to gain a big advantage over the other as Deer Park took a two-goal lead into the main break.
As they’ve done so often and in particular in the qualifying and semi-finals just weeks ago, Deer Park came out firing in the second half and wrestled control from Hoppers Crossing.
The Warriors had few answers when going forward as they were blanketed by the Lions back six led vocally by Jason Kennedy who was among the best for the premiers.
Seven goals to two in the second half sealed the win for the Lions, breaking Warriors hearts for the second time in three years.
It’s a testament to the strength of Deer Park that the 48-point win wasn’t the best they’ve played this finals series and had they kicked straight, would have blown out Hoppers Crossing.
Despite the loss, Hoppers Crossing should be pleased with how far they came and with a few key additions could be back in the flag decider next season.