Lyndhurst 8.6 (54) def by Cerberus 12.14 (86)
Cerberus have netted their maiden senior premiership in the SFNL, trumping a dogged Lyndhurst side by 32 points to salute on the biggest stage.
Despite finishing higher on the ladder and earning an extra week’s rest, the Lightning rather unusually entered the game as underdogs, such was Cerberus’ momentum heading into the clash.
Having not dropped a game since early June, many backed the rampaging Dogs to take out the title with their fitness and bigger bodies a clear key strength.
But the Lightning were certainly not to be underestimated, having played some excellent footy throughout the season to sit near the top of the ladder for the majority of the year.
Conditions for football could not have been any better, with Keysborough Reserve bathed in glorious sunshine complimented by a light breeze for the duration of the day.
Plenty of sideline support was on show for both clubs, with team colours and jumpers proudly on display around the ground.
The excitement and anticipation hit fever pitch as the national anthem rung around the venue, as teammates linked up arm in arm ready for the biggest match of their lives.
Finally, after five long months of fierce competition, the two best sides were left to fight it out for the ultimate prize.
With both clubs appearing in their maiden SFNL Grand Final, the nerves were on show early with a scrappy and contested tussle on full display.
But once the Dogs found their first opening they were able to settle into a nice rhythm, doing most of the attacking to slot the only three goals of the term.
The quarter-time break came at a good time for the Lightning and they looked much better when play resumed in the second term.
Two quick goals to Hamish Browning sparked his side back into action as the men in orange begun to get their hands on the pill first.
After withstanding the initial ambush, the Dogs slowly begun to arrest the momentum and crucially managed to sneak a goal through just before the main break.
Aside from conceding a late major the Lightning would’ve been fairly satisfied with their response, closing the gap to 15 points with a huge half of footy to follow.
And it was their main man Browning who got them rolling again in the second half, the Lightning spearhead singlehandedly dragging his side back into the contest with another early goal in the third term.
But that was as close as they got for the quarter, as Cerberus lifted another gear to respond with two majors to blow the margin back out to 23 points.
Each time Lyndhurst threatened to get back into the contest they were hastily snuffed out by the Dogs who continued to stand tall.
As once again a Lyndhurst major was quickly answered by Cerberus on the stroke of three-quarter time.
The navy boys were looking the goods with a 23-point buffer at the last change of the season, with the sweet taste of premiership success agonisingly close.
And their triumph seemed inevitable when they slotted the opening goal five minutes into the last stanza, with their five kick lead looking insurmountable.
But the Lightning had one final surge left in them, storming right back into the contest with three majors in four minutes to throw the match on its head.
With the margin now only sitting at 11 points with plenty of time remaining, the next goal was crucial in deciding who would get their hands on the fabled cup.
But as the game teetered delicately on the line the Dogs dug deep with one final effort, responding with three quick goals to slam the door shut once and for all.
To their credit Lyndhurst never stopped trying and continued to plug away despite the inevitable result of their premiership dreams slipping away.
But the last ten minutes was party time for the Dogs, as they sealed their premiership in style with one final major sending their supporters into pandemonium.
The celebrations kicked into full swing for both players and coaching staff as the final siren brought a close to season 2018 and with it a Cerberus premiership.
In a season full of persistence, the Dogs showed both their physical and mental strength several times throughout the match when fiercely challenged.
Their ability to run out games strongly was a feature of their second half of the season and it came to the fore once again when the Lightning were making a serious play in the final moments.
Sam Corcoran was dominant all day for Cerberus, slotting three goals and racking up plenty of disposals to set up the win.
He was well supported by Jeremy Cross who found plenty of space along with a handy major.
Crowd favourite Jimmy Miller once again found the big sticks, booting three goals in a performance that was deemed worthy of best on ground by the umpires.
The day did not go to script for Lyndhurst but their star forward Hamish Browning was simply superb, kicking six of the teams eight goals to keep them in the hunt all game.
Despite the result, the Lightning’s season upon reflection will be one worth celebrating and the club will no doubt be up the top end of the ladder once again next year.
But for Cerberus, the celebrations won’t be going away anytime soon.
H. Browning 6, C. Gardiner, J. Murphy.
H. Browning, J. Walia, A. Besim, J. Twite, J. Andrade, K. Twite.
S. Corcoran 3, J. Miller 3, C. Kaye, T. Borrillo, A. McCaig, S. Vanderfeen, P. Jones, J. Cross.
S. Corcoran, J. Cross, J. Miller, S. Vanderfeen, J. Kura, D. Myatt.