Under 19 – Grand Final Review
With Alex Charles
A warm Sunday morning greeted the players and supporters as the 9:30am start time would be the last for the SFNL’s Under 19 competition for 2015. Whether it was believed that Hampton and St Kilda City were the season’s two best sides was irrelevant as they were undoubtedly the best of the finals and deserving of their Grand Final spots. Despite the absence of Bentleigh and Dingley – two of the most consistent sides over the past few years – this game delivered a dramatic contest.
The Saints have been in solid form, however their qualification two weeks ago meant they would need to perform in the season’s biggest game following a week off. Meanwhile, the Hammers accumulated finals victories over Oakleigh District, Bentleigh and Dingley knowing they had no second chances to ultimately earn their place.
Both sides struggled to break through the congestion as St Kilda took an early two-point advantage into the main break. Oliver Gabelich and Zach Allen were the early threats for both St Kilda and Hampton respectively and this continued into the second term. Both sides could only managed one goal apiece and the Saints therefore were able to maintain their initial two-point buffer at the main break.
Inaccuracy continued to creep into the contest during the third quarter as Hampton lifted their intensity to gain the lead. Allen continued to hit the scoreboard at crucial moments resulting in the Hammers taking a 10-point margin into the final term of the season.
The Saints needed more sources in order to register goals and generate scoreboard pressure. Despite a strong defensive effort, they were becoming too reliant on Gabelich in attack as the forward had all four of his side’s majors. However, with everything on the line, this didn’t seem to matter. The Saints started the quarter well and two goals from Gabelich helped regain the lead. Nervous kicking didn’t hamper the charge, and the Saints, despite only seven goals from 24 scoring shots, managed to steal an incredible 12-point win in a frenetic final few minutes.
The premiership had been won by the club in their debut season. Hampton fought valiantly and would have been deserving winners if it were not for a goalless last quarter. A stellar performance from Barnes Medallist Gabelich ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides as he managed to kick all seven of his team’s goals, including two in the final minutes to get his side across the line. It was a stunning individual display, and it reinforced how strong the Saints have been over the course of the season when faced with adversity.
ST KILDA CITY
2.3.15 | 3.7.25 | 4.11.35 | 7.17.59
2.1.13 | 3.5.23 | 6.9.45 | 6.11.47
Click HERE for full scores, goal kickers and best players.
It has been an incredible season with plenty of fluctuations and this contest was a fitting finale. All 12 teams brought something to the table this season and the players, families, staff and supporters can be proud of a year where the league has taken giant steps towards a stronger future. The success of themed rounds, in particular the multicultural round, has had a wonderful impact on the community to demonstrate how diversity has contributed to the league’s development throughout its existence. And with that, we hope to hear from you in season 2016.
Thanks for reading!
Micky Lee shoots for goal.
Carl Nichols takes possession.
Perry O'Hehir-Vargas goes for a gallop.
Oliver Gablich claimed the Barnes Medal for best afield after booting all seven of St Kilda City's goals.
Photos courtesy of Photogenix. Photos from this match and other games during the 2015 SFNL SAS Security Finals series are available to purchase at www.photogenixsports.com.au.