Bulldogs bring home flag in thriller over Pies

Justin FrisBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton’s Jed Kemp cast a forlorn figure after the league grand final.
Camera IconBusselton’s Jed Kemp cast a forlorn figure after the league grand final. Credit: Jon Gellweiler/Jon Gellweiler/JLG Photographics

Bunbury hung on for a thrilling 11.8 (74) to 10.9 (69) victory over a devastated Busselton in Sunday’s SWFL grand final at a jam-packed Hands Oval.

Magpies youngster Jed Kemp had an opportunity to win the game for his side on the final siren, but his brave kick from 55m out fell short in the goal square.

It was the first time the clubs had met in a league grand final — and given the epic nature of the contest, it will be a match which will dominate discussion for years to come.

Winning the toss and kicking to the Mary Street end, the Bulldogs were on from the first bounce and got the ball into the hands of Sam Davies within the opening minute.

Some doubted whether Davies would be available for selection because of a nagging calf issue, but the key forward showed no ill-effects and kicked truly. The Bulldogs added two more majors inside the opening six minutes, courtesy of Denholm King and Cameron Lamonaca.

By now, it was evident a number of Magpies players were lacking their usual zest, but no one was prepared to write David Lewis’ side off — and for good reason.

The Pies hit the front at the 22-minute mark of the second term, after a clever snap from Mitchell Howlett. Not only had their work rate increased but the imposing combination of Kester Decke and Bronson Stallard was starting to wear down the effectiveness of Jacob Williams, who impressed on the ball early.

Howlett opened the third term with another major, which extended the Magpies’ lead to nine points, before Davies’ class again rose to the surface.

Two towering goals — including a monster roost from 60m out — put the Bulldogs back in front before the final change, as both sides threw everything at each other.

On one side of the coin, Jesse Gribble’s acts of bravery were lifting everyone in black and gold, while on the other, Jackson Arbon’s skills in traffic were equally inspiring. But the Bulldogs held their nerve in the dying stages and delivered a ninth league flag to their loyal supporters.

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