GLENROWAN has overcome a depleted bench and a dogged Milawa to win its second straight Ovens and King league premiership.
The Kelly Tigers went back to back for the first time after recording a thrilling 13-point comeback win in front of over 4000 fans at the W.J. Findlay Oval on Saturday.
In a replay of the past two grand finals, Glenrowan was forced to call on its deep running power to beat Milawa 9.13 (67) to 8.6 (54).
“It was a great grand final, it could have gone either way,” Glenrowan co-coach Nigel Robinson said.
“I was a bit scared because the way we play our footy we can normally break free, get a roll on.
“But there wasn’t one stage in the whole four quarters that we got a roll on.”
Milawa was the better team for much of the match and raced out of the blocks.
Brent Newton controlled the air, while Brandon Ryan and Nathan Hooper were dominant at the stoppages.
Milawa booted four of the first five goals and had six by quarter time to lead by 24 points and turn pre-game predictions of a Glenrowan whitewash on its head.
But when Matt Duffy booted the first of the second quarter, you sensed Glenrowan was just waking up.
Glenrowan kicked 4.3 to 1.1 for the second quarter, including a goal on the siren, to narrow the margin to four points at halftime.
The arm-wrestle continued in the third term, with Milawa’s veterans taking it right up to Glenrowan.
Steve Williamson was rock-solid in the back line, while Ben Clarke and Jack Stamp were hard to beat.
Karl Norman was outstanding on the ball for Glenrowan, constantly booting the ball long to advantage.
Gus Gray was at his dynamic best – he was best afield – while Mitchell Potts and Al Pike were also impressive for the Kelly Tigers.
Only one goal was kicked in the third quarter, with Glenrowan taking a four-point lead into the last term.
But the Kelly Tigers were a man down on the bench in the fourth term, with co-coach Rory Cunningham out with a knee injury.
Both teams missed gettable chances, before Norman snapped a team-lifting goal to put Glenrowan up by that margin late in the match.
The Kelly Tigers were able to add one more to record a memorable win.
“To be backs against the walls, the way the boys fought it out, an incredible bunch,” Cunningham said.
“I’ve always got confidence in this bunch, they’re very hungry.”
Cunningham said he tried to go back on, but couldn’t.
“First contest I got sandwiched in a tackle and just bone on bone,” he said.
“I tried to go back out there and couldn’t put any weight on it.
“Hobbled around for a couple of quarters, but I was no good to them.”