2005 SANFL Grand Final
By Robert Laidlaw
The best way to describe Central District’s fifth flag in six years with its 28 point victory in Sunday’s SANFL grand final against the Eagles was ‘Dynastic’ – a fantastic win which confirmed the dynasty the Bulldogs have created.
To win their third consecutive premiership is a triple treat after back-to-back efforts in 2000-01 for the Bulldogs. Since its acceptance into league ranks in 1964, now only Port (14) and Sturt (8) have won more flags!
Perhaps this year’s premiership success will be remembered more when it is considered where the club had come from after a poor start to the season, after only three victories from its first eight games, and finishing with 14 consecutive wins.
Written off as 'too slow and too old' after consecutive losses to Glenelg and Norwood – teams which did not make the final five – the Bulldogs turned their season around when it scratched and clawed to an eight point victory over Sturt at home, and haven't looked back.
The ability to respond to adversity held Central in good stead last Sunday, especially when it trailed by 17 points half way through the second term, and the Eagles seemed to have all the running.
Opening well, the Dogs scored the game’s first goal within two minutes when Simon Arnott’s quick snap out of a pack was grabbed by Chris Gowans in the goalsquare, and converted for full points.
After some toing and froing, Central seemed to make its mark on the contest when Daniel Schell kicked a 50m goal at the 12 minute mark and the Dogs led by 14 points. The Eagles then worked hard and managed two pressure goals to get back into the contest.
Perhaps the ‘coolest customer’ on the field was Luke McCabe, and gathering the ball out of the middle, answered the Eagles second score with a long major, to see Central lead 3-3 to 2-1 at the first break.
A change in application by Woodville West Torrens saw tough times early in the second quarter for the Dogs, as four unanswered goals saw the Bulldogs trail by 17 points at the 15 minute mark. The Eagles had some luck but also missed two ‘sitters.’
Central clearly was struggling, but was unlucky with a disallowed goal and another apparently touched off the boot. Eventually the cream rose to the top though, as Brad Symes cleverly kicked to Chris Gowans in the goalsquare from near the boundary, and Marco Bello booted a rover’s goal.
The Eagles did kick one goal against the run of play, but a great captain’s goal from Daniel Healy, and just before the siren Heath Hopwood squeaked a major, for the Bulldogs to actually take the lead at half time, 7-6 to 7-3.
Having weathered the storm, the Bulldogs now had the chance to regroup at the long break, and reassess its game plan for the second half.
A more determined Central unit took the field in the third term, and although the Eagles booted the first major, eventually the Dogs hard work paid dividends when Luke Cowan came alive with two clever majors for a seven-point advantage.
Then a goal of the game from Shannon Hurn had shades of Stuart Dew’s major bomb from the third quarter of the 2000 grand final. James Gowans saw Hurn free and passed to the youngster, who with two Eagles closing in, let fly from 60m and it sailed through.
What could the Eagles do to get back into the game? Central led by 13 points at the final change, 10-9 to 8-8, and the Bulldogs had absorbed the best Woodville West Torrens could throw at them, and in the first 30 seconds of the last term, Healy had another major on the board.
Perhaps with their last throw of the dice, the Eagles had a shot at the five minute mark from 50m, but a kick into the man on the mark sapped their resolve, and class goals from Schell and Chris Gowans sent the message loud and clear to supporters – start celebrating.
Over the final 15 minutes of the game, the Eagles showed some grunt with three goals, but a pair of Schell majors kept the scoreline out of reach for a desperate opponent.
Scores: Central District 15-14 (104) d Eagles 11.10 (76)
Best: McCabe, J. Gowans, S. Cochrane, Scoullar, Bello, C. Gowans, Symes, Hopwood, Hay.
Goals: Schell 4, C. Gowans 3, Healy 2, Cowan 2, McCabe, Bello, Hopwood, Hurn.
CENTRAL DISTRICT 2005 PREMIERSHIP TEAM
FF – Nathan Steinberner, Daniel Schell, Matthew Slade
HF – Luke McCabe, Luke Cowan, James Gowans
C – Daniel Healy, Chris Gowans, Stuart Cochrane
HB – Richard Cochrane, Quinton Graham, Heath Hopwood
FB – Brad Currie, Yves Sibenaler, Tyson Hay
Ruck – Paul Scoullar, Simon Arnott, Marco Bello
Interchange – Shannon Hurn, Brad Symes, Jason MacKenzie
Coach – Roy Laird
Captain – Daniel Healy
Jack Oatey Medallist - Luke McCabe