Port Melbourne ended Richmond’s hopes of dream VFL and AFL seasons with a thrilling four-point triumph in Sunday’s Peter Jackson VFL ‘Love the Game’ Grand Final at Etihad Stadium.
Ben Lennon missed a shot at goal from beyond 50m after the siren that would have clinched a remarkable victory for the VFL Tigers but instead handed the Borough, captain Toby Pinwill and coach Gary Ayres their first premiership since an undefeated season in 2011, with the final score 11.8 (74) to 10.10 (70) in front of 17,159 supporters.
Port Melbourne trailed by 13 points entering time-on of the last quarter but kicked the last three goals of the game to prevail. Dylan Conway booted three fourth-term majors to be the match-winning forward the Borough had been sorely lacking to that point, while Richmond and ex-Frankston on-baller Sam Lloyd was awarded the Norm Goss Medal as best-on-ground for his game-high 35 disposals, 10 tackles, nine clearances and one goal.
Until the pulsating final stanza, the match was a mostly dour defensive struggle characterised by both teams’ inability to find targets and convert chances inside 50. The Borough’s back line was crucial to the victory, with Damian Mascitti (team-high 30 disposals, eight rebound-50s) and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (19, seven) continually driving the ball forward and key defenders Brody Mihocek (20 disposals, seven marks) and Lucas Cook (16, five) controlling the air.
Chris Cain kicked two goals for Port Melbourne, while Borough hard-nuts Pinwill (29 disposals, 10 tackles, eight clearances), Shannen Lange (27 disposals, four clearances) and Tom O’Sullivan (25, five) matched Lloyd, Anthony Miles (24 disposals, seven clearances) and Corey Ellis (23, seven tackles) in the contests.
For the Tigers, defenders Jake Batchelor, Ryan Garthwaite and Hugh Beasley thwarted Port Melbourne’s forward forays for much of the match, while Ben Griffiths kicked three majors and Shaun Hampson (13 disposals, seven marks, 40 hitouts) was dominant both in the ruck and around the ground, but the Borough had the best of the crucial moments late in the game.
One of 19 AFL-listed players in Richmond’s team, it was the Shai Bolton show early in the contest as the dynamic small forward kicked the game’s first two goals within five minutes and provided the assist for Griffiths to boot Richmond’s third later in the term.
The Tigers took a seven-point lead into the first break before Port Melbourne started to consistently break through Richmond’s renowned press with handballs in the second stanza. However, despite being on top at the stoppages and in space, a goal to the hard-running Eli Templeton (23 disposals) was the Borough’s only reward on the scoreboard and they headed into the long break one point in arrears having held Richmond to three behinds for the quarter.
The game broke open after half time with neither team able to kick more than two consecutive goals until Port Melbourne overturned its 13-point deficit with two majors to Conway and then one to Mitch Wooffindin (25 disposals) in the last 10 minutes of the match and forced Lennon to kick for the flag.
As the shot faded right, members of the Tiger Army would have consoled themselves in Richmond’s coming AFL Grand Final appearance but the Port Melbourne faithful had already commenced celebrations for the club’s 17th VFL/VFA premiership.
— #PJVFL / #VFLWomens (@VFL) September 24, 2017
PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 3.5 6.6 11.8 (74)
RICHMOND 3.3 3.6 6.8 10.10 (70)
Port Melbourne: D.Conway 3, Cain 2, Pinwill, Templeton, Anastasio, Sandilands, Pearson, Wooffindin
Richmond: Griffiths 3, Bolton 2, Menadue 2, Lloyd, Lennon, Mannagh
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