Zebras double up

Sandringham dedicated its premiership to tsunami victim Troy Broadbridge after defeating Werribee by nine points in yesterday’s VFL grand final at Optus Oval.

The Zebras claimed consecutive flags for the first time in the club’s history after setting up the win with a commanding five-goal third quarter.

After taking a 29-point three-quarter time lead, Sandringham survived a spirited last-term comeback from the minor premier to win 11.17 (83) to 11.8 (74).

Melbourne’s Daniel Ward was awarded the Norm Goss Medal as the best player on the ground for his role in defence.

Key defenders Matthew Warnock and Andy Biddlecombe also impressed in restricting the impact of dangerous Werribee forwards James Podsiadly (three goals) and Jade Rawlings (one goal).

Ezra Poyas (two goals) gave the Zebras spark, while ruckman Mark Jamar had an enthralling battle with Daniel Bandy.

Scott Howard and defender Kieran McGuinness, who held veteran Zebras spearhead Nick Saunter to one goal, were the best for Werribee.

Sandringham players wore red armbands in memory of Broadbridge, who played his last game of football for the Zebras in last year’s premiership win against Port Melbourne.

Sandringham coach Mark Williams, who coached last year’s premiership team, said the team was determined to win for Broadbridge.

“We want to dedicate this win to Troy and his memory,” Williams said. “We really miss him and it’s something that we can look back on in year’s to come with the dedication, saying we did do it for him.”

For Werribee, which last won a premiership in 1993, it was another opportunity lost after finishing runner-up for the third time in eight years.

Disappointed Werribee coach Simon Atkins said the Tigers had let the game slip away in the third quarter.

“You can’t give a lead to a quality team and then want to chase them down,” said Atkins, in his first year as coach at Werribee. “We allowed them to kick five goals and that’s the end of the game.”

Rawlings gave Werribee a three-point lead going into the second term when he capitalised from a free kick late in the term to Bandy.

While it was a tight start to the game, there were worrying signs early for the Zebras with Sautner unable to get near the ball and Werribee running out of defence with ease.

Sautner broke through for his first goal early in the second term, and when Steven Armstrong goaled minutes later, the Zebras looked like breaking clear.

But Podsiadly put Werribee back on level terms with Sandringham moments before he crashed into the boundary fence, injuring his back and shoulder.

The league’s leading goalkicker was late to return to the field in the third quarter, as was his team after the halftime break, with Atkins taking as long as he could to get his message across.

Whatever the edict, the Tigers failed to respond as the Zebras kicked five unanswered goals at the start of the third term to take control of the game.

Shannon Motlop, who replaced Broadbridge on the Melbourne list, split the game open when he kicked two goals in the space of a minute to give the Zebras a 29-point three-quarter time lead.

Werribee hit back with goals to Bandy, Wayde Skipper and Damien McCormack in the final term to cut the margin to 14 points, but the Zebras’ third quarter had proved too costly.

There was some consolation for the west, with Williamstown scoring a 16.7 (103) to 12.9 (81) win over North Ballarat in the reserves grand final.

Herald Sun

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