THE SHARKS PERFECT SEASON
By PADDY GRINDLAY
Point Cook Centrals have confirmed a perfect season of football, surviving a brief scare from Parkside to win its second senior premiership in club history at Yarraville Oval.
On a perfect September Saturday, the Sharks rolled into the inner west overwhelming favourites to defeat the Magpies for the fourth time in the season, having won through to the Division 2 Grand Final with an 11-goal win.
It had already been a successful day for the football club, with the Sharks taking the Victoria University Polytechnic Senior Women’s Division 2 flag.
The Centrals, led by their shark mascot out onto Yarraville Oval, were expected by a healthy crowd to become the WRFL Division 2 Premier in a straightforward manner.
Having travelled the longer path to the Grand Final, the Magpies were expected to have somewhat heavier legs than the well-rested Sharks but surprised all in sundry with a blistering opening quarter against a stiff breeze, following the opening goal scored by Shark Lachlan Grant.
Instead of an expected romp, Parkside constrained the contest, with only eight goals kicked before half time and a one-point lead held by the plucky Magpies. Jy Lambley and Brent Kelly (two goals apiece) were proving dangerous, Luke Vraca and Ned Fraser were impressing, and usual suspects Shaun Campbell and Jackson Barrett paced the ‘Pies.
With Nathan Williams and Mitch Palma industrious, the premiership quarter loomed as match-deciding one for the Sharks, who fell into a holding pattern before half time. Defenders Kurt Mayne and Jesse Bruce had held back the wind-aided Magpies late in the second, giving the Sharks a golden opportunity to establish a lead in the third with their second turn at handling the breeze.
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As they have all season, the Sharks made the most of the opportunity. Having missed their line in the opening quarter, Palma and Nathan Williams put their heads down and dominated the clinches, while Grant was imperious in the forward half. A five-goal-to-one quarter saw the Shark open a 23-point margin on the Magpies with 25 minutes to play.
Passionate addresses from both coaches saw a pulsating final term take place. The Parksiders, harnessing the blustery conditions, scored the first two goals of the quarter and cut the margin to ten points. The Centrals mustered just the one scoring shot for the quarter – but it proved to be a match-saving one.
Young gun Lachlan Grant, with four to his name at the final break, found himself with an opportunity from the flank, with the wind pushing his kick away from goal. Unperturbed, the Centrals #6 dobbed the shot and assured a premiership for his team.
The Point Cook Centrals took victory, 10.4 (64) to 7.6 (48), finishing the season without a loss and enshrining one of the most dominant seasons the WRFL has ever seen. Jubilant scenes followed the final siren, and cheers greeted the announcement of five-goal hero Grant as Rex Swann medallist for his best-on-ground showing. Shark celebrations continued well into the night – the Centrals now targeting Division 1 football in 2023.
In the Reserves, Wyndhamvale claimed the Premiership, defeating Parkside by 22-points.
The Falcons finished fourth on the ladder at the end of the home and away season and went on to win three straight finals to claim the 2022 Division 2 Reserves premiership.
Corey Mackey won the Best on Ground medal.