FOR the second year running the Picola District Football Netball League Under 17 football grand finalists were Katunga and Strathmerton.
While Katunga went into the 2018 match as favourites, after an undefeated season and fell short, it was the Bulldogs this season who carried the pressure of favourites into the last dance.
Having split the results though the home and away season, the stage was set for a great contest and neither team disappointed on the day, with spectators entertained by a high-quality game of pressure football by two very committed teams.
Katunga started the better via two early goals, though they were unable to really turn their field position advantage onto the scoreboard and a late first term goal by the Bulldogs had them right back in the contest.
The second term was for a large part all Katunga, as they added the only three goals of the term, to head into the halftime break with a 20-point lead.
While Strathmerton’s inaccuracy was proving costly, some quality run and carry ball movement, good forward line conversion and solid defensive pressure by the Swans found the Bulldogs wanting at times.
While relatively even on the scoreboard, the third term saw Strathmerton start to influence the contest, though the Swans were able to continue putting enormous pressure on Strathmerton’s prime movers which limited their advantage.
An early final quarter goal by the Bulldogs had them within 11 points and suddenly it was anyone’s game.
Strathmerton attacked constantly throughout the term, but due to the strong committed defensive pressure applied by Katunga all over the ground this was to be the only goal for the quarter, which enabled Katunga to emerge worthy 8 point victors.
While co-captain Max Hendy was awarded the AFL Victoria Country Medal, his teammate Will Sefton was awarded the PDFNL best on ground award for a sustained four quarter defensive game and certainly without Sefton his team would not have tasted victory.
Sam Arho (three goals) was the game’s premier forward, on-baller Lachie Daniel worked himself to a standstill and was an instrumental four quarter player, while fourths listed player Jackson Harris, key defender Clayton Beer, and flanker Lachie O’Hare played four quarter games.
Strathmerton was best served by Aaron Macfadyen, Haydn Wyatt and Riley O’Kane (two goals).