2009 SANFL Grand Final

By Robert Laidlaw

Central District Bulldogs completed a trifecta of premierships in the SANFL with a resounding 38-point triumph over Sturt Double Blues in the grand final on Sunday, to complete a record decade of success.

Starting with its maiden breakthrough flag in 2000 over the Eagles, Central went back-to-back the following year against the same opponent.

After losing to Sturt in 2002, the Bulldogs beat West Adelaide and the Eagles twice more for five flags in six seasons.

Then finally it was the Eagles turn in 2006, as Central was again on the losing end of a grand final, before another trio of flags from ’07, against North Adelaide, Glenelg and now Sturt.

In the 21st century the Bulldogs have played 200 minor round games for 155 victories, 44 losses and a draw, and in finals action, played 24 games for 22 wins, totalling and incredible 177 victories and just 46 losses!

Although holding an all-time 4-1 record against Sturt in finals action, it was the Blues who won the only previous premiership-decider between the clubs, giving Central an extra incentive for tasting victory on Sunday.

The grand final saw Sturt start better but waste opportunities, with two early points. Then the Eddie Sansbury show made a cameo, with two majors for the Bulldogs, the second a magnificent snap over his shoulder.

Sturt managed to wrest some control with a couple of goals to close the gap to a single point, before the Doggies got on a run to boot four of the next five majors to go into quarter time with a 6-3 to 3-3 advantage.

But one of the game’s early stars, Central’s Chad O’Sullivan, was lost for the day after falling awkwardly and breaking his leg shortly before quarter time. With eight possessions to that point, he had been the stand out performer.

The second quarter was a grind, but proved to be the match-winning period for the Bulldogs, although only three goals were kicked.

For the first 10 minutes the Blues realised just three behinds from a number of forward forays, while from one scoring shot, by Daniel Schell, Central kicked a goal!

Half way through the term a piece of magic by Ian Callinan sent a clear message to supporters – start celebrating. Taking a clever mark after a Scott Dutschke under-pressure pass, Callinan played on and booted a ‘special’ long major around his body for the goal of the game.

Another goal from Sansbury was followed by four consecutive behinds, as the Bulldogs appeared to have total control at half time, leading 9-8 to 3-6, after keeping Sturt goal-less through the period.

Jason Mackenzie and Jonathan Giles were winning the rucks, Ryan Williams and the Gowans twins, Chris and James, were winning the hard ball, and Matthew Slade and Paul Thomas were leading by example – all the key elements were in place.

Schell kicked his second goal early in the third quarter, then when Slade hammered home a major, Central was 52 points ahead and cruising.

Yves Sibenaler had been a blanket on the dangerous Sturt full forward Bant Chambers, but half way through the term a ‘soft’ free to the opposition spearhead, gave Sturt its first goal since the 19 minute mark of the first quarter.

Then another two majors in quick succession, saw the margin reduced to 34 points, and gave the Blues a glimmer of hope.

But Chris Gowans stepped to the plate with an answering goal and snuffed out any hopes of a miracle fightback, as Central took a 12-12 to 6-7 lead into the final break.

Although out on their feet, the Bulldogs had done enough to ensure victory, while Sturt wasn’t exactly fresh as daisies either.

The first 10 minutes was a grind, with neither side kicking a goal, which ensured Central was home. Sturt managed the first major of the period at the 11 minute mark, with Sansbury kicking his fourth just before time on, as the Bulldogs ran out 13-14 to 7-12 victors.

For his fine job in quelling up-and-coming AFL star Jack Trengove, Trent Goodrem was awarded the Jack Oatey Medal.

Then there were the lead-by-example captains, Matthew Slade and Paul Thomas, who both played well in the game that mattered most.

Unfortunately Slade announced his retirement in the change-rooms after the game – with his eighth premiership medallion hanging around his neck.

Sansbury was a forward spark all game, Mackenzie was superb in ruck, with good support from Giles, the Gowans boys were tough and hard all game, and Ryan Williams was again a great finals contributor.

The decade of the Dogs has been completed!

Central District    6.3    9.8    12.12    13.14    (92 pts.)

Sturt    3.3    3.6    6.7    7.12    (54 pts.)
Best: Goodrem, Slade, Thomas, Sansbury, Mackenzie, J. Gowans, Williams, Spurr, Dutschke, C. Gowans, Lawry.
Goals: Sansbury 4, Schell 2, J. Gowans, Dutschke, Havelberg, O’Sullivan, Callinan, Slade, C. Gowans.

The 2009 premiership team

FF: Matthew Slade, Daniel Schell, Scott Dutschke
HF: Chad O’Sullivan, Daniel Havelberg, Chris Gowans
C: Adam Switala, James Gowans, Eddie Sansbury
HB: Paul Thomas, Yves Sibenaler, Richard Cochrane
FB: Andrew Hayes, Heath Lawry, Lee Spurr

Ruck: Jason Mackenzie, Ryan Williams, Ian Callinan

Interchange: Jonathan Giles, Trent Goodrem, Brayden O’Hara

Coach: Roy Laird. Captains: Matthew Slade, Paul Thomas.

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League ladder

  1. Norwood
  2. Eagles
  3. Sturt
  4. South Adelaide
  5. North Adelaide
  6. Glenelg
  7. West Adelaide
  8. Central District
  9. Port Adelaide
  10. Adelaide
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