By Will Hunter
Dingley 15.15 (105) def Bentleigh 6.7 (43)
The Dingoes are through to their fourth consecutive Division 1 Senior Grand Final after thrashing Bentleigh by 62 points at Springvale Reserve.
After a disappointing loss to Mordialloc in last week’s Second Semi Final, the Dingoes were keen to make amends. And they certainly succeeded, seizing control of the contest from quarter time and ensuring they enter next week’s decider with confidence restored.
The opening stanza was for the most part a tough and physical encounter, with Bentleigh’s relentless attack on the footy giving them the upper hand in the contest. Although Dingley were the first to hit the scoreboard with a goal into the breeze within the first 90 seconds, the Demons hit back with three majors of their own to put a gap on their opponents.
Chris Horton-Milne goaled in time on to bring keep the Dingoes in touch, but the Demons nevertheless entered quarter time with a seven-point advantage.
But any hopes of a tight contest quickly evaporated as Dingley flicked the switch in the second term and, with the aid of the wind, simply ran the tired Bentleigh off their feet.
The Dingoes’ famed run and spread that was so lacking last week was back on display, and the Demons had no answered for their dominance on the outside.
Tearaway winger Lucas Walmsley got the better of his direct opponent in Kayne O’Brien, and racked up plenty of possessions around the ground, while up forward Daniel Farmer broke the game open with two classy goals.
As a result, the Dingoes piled on 5.6 to just one behind in a dominant quarter of football, and by the major break had opened up a commanding 28-point lead.
With their season on the line, Bentleigh upped their pressure and intensity at the contest in the premiership quarter and refused to allow the Dingoes as to win as much outside ball. The result was 20-odd minutes of scrappy, high-pressure football littered with turnovers, a far cry from the frenetic pace of the term prior.
However, Dingley absorbed the pressure and Bentleigh could make no inroads into the margin, despite the aid of the breeze. Consequently, the third-term stalemate had the reigning premiers in the box seat at the final change.
Dingley then put the tiring Demons to the sword in the final term, booting six goals to ensure a commanding victory and keep their dream of a premiership hat trick well and truly alive.
It was a performance that was bore no resemblance to their 10-goal loss a week earlier. While plenty of Dingoes had their colours lowered against the Bloods that day, there were no passengers on Sunday in what was a complete team performance that would have given coach Shane Morwood plenty of reasons to smile.
In particular, Dingley co-captain Jackson Peet was a class above through the midfield, racking up a stack of possessions and finishing with three goals in a dominant display. He had plenty of help, though, with Walmsley, Chris Horton-Milne and Josh Ellis all working tirelessly in the engine room.
Young Kristen Feehan was assigned the difficult task of manning the dangerous Matt Troutbeck, and handled it with aplomb, keeping the star spearhead goalless and largely unsighted for the day.
Big men Chris Morgan and Danny Ades were pillars of strength, both in the ruck and around the ground, while Travis La Rocca was again superb in the back half, especially in the pressure-cooker third term.
Winners for Bentleigh, however, were more difficult to find.
Tom Massey stood up through the midfield in Sam McGarry’s absence, winning plenty of footy and competing hard around the contest. He also provided one of the highlights of the day with his stunning goal from the boundary line in the first term, which gave his teammates a visible lift.
Man-mountain Mitchell Smart did a tremendous job rucking solo all day, while Michael Rogers also did a reasonable job on Cal McQueen, despite the League’s leading goalkicker finishing with three majors.
The usual suspects in Scott Lawry, Jackson Meredith and Brody Lawford were also prominent.