2007 SANFL Grand Final
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
By Robert Laidlaw
Central District Bulldogs defeated North Adelaide Roosters by 65 points at AAMI Stadium last Sunday to win the 2007 SANFL grand final – and their sixth premiership in eight years – in convincing style.
After the disappointment of losing in 2006, Central recruited well pre-season, and Sunday saw several young players step up to help make club history.
The match started with North winning the toss and kicking to the northern end, which was favoured with the breeze, but it was clear from the start Central had brought its A-game.
An early rushed point to the Roosters saw them lead for the only time of the game, and when Ian Callinan took a good mark, he passed to James Gowans, who relayed the ball to Alan Obst, and the Dogs had their first goal.
At the 10 minute mark another young gun in Daniel Havelberg stepped up to the plate and hammered home a major to give Central the perfect start.
Even when North finally broke through for its first goal, Obst had the answer after taking a strong pack mark, then James Gowans finished off some good work out of the middle by Jonathon Griffin.
Another North goal seemed to be it for the term, but then Scott Dutschke turned on some magic when he chased down and stole the ball from an opponent in the forward pocket, two-stepped around another Rooster, and snapped the goal of the game.
The Bulldogs were in the driver's seat, leading 5.2 to 2.3, and were set to use the breeze in the second term. Of Central's first five goals, four had been kicked by three local youngsters playing their first grand final.
For the first 15 minutes of the second quarter North dominated, with 1.3 to a solitary behind, but then the Callinan show changed the landscape of the game, as he booted three great goals, and except for a rush of blood could have had four, as the Dogs led 8.4 to 3.6 at half time.
All Central had to do was break even with the Roosters in the third term and the game would be safe. North kicked the first major and then two behinds to close within 20 points, with both sides having the same number of scoring shots – but that was the last time North would come close to threatening Central.
The Dogs got on track with Callinan's fourth, a Chris Gowans' goal and another to Andrew Hayes, and at three quarter time Central led 11.6 to 4.9.
An early opening goal to Havelberg saw Central begin a quarter-long celebration in the final stanza, and although a run of five consecutive behinds blotted the copybook a little, four further majors, including one to 100 gamer Richard Cochrane, completed the job.
Both the Gowans boys were hard at it and creative all match, with Chris winning the Jack Oatey Medal, his second, while James perhaps cost himself a chance at the award when he was reported late in the game.
Callinan was at his lethal best, kicking goals when it counted, Brad Symes rebounded well from the disappointment of the previous week with Port Adelaide, to shine, while the backline was solid all game.
Every player contributed on the day when it counted, and all 21 Bulldogs can now proudly call themselves premiership players.
The win completed an amazing season for Central, which lost only two minor round games this season, equalling a record set in 2002, and went one better by winning the grand final, to finish the season at 20-2, compared to 19-3 five years ago.
Another interesting statistic is the fact Central is now 22-22 overall in finals games, after being 6-20 before its run of eight consecutive grand final appearances started in 2000.
Central District 16.11 (107) d North Adelaide 5.12 (42)
Best: C. Gowans, J. Gowans, Callinan, Symes, Thomas, Sibenaler, Schell, Grima, Cochrane.
Goals: Callinan 4, Obst 2, Havelberg 2, J. Gowans 2, Dutschke 2, C. Gowans, Hayes, Thomas, Cochrane.