The Woodsmen won many admirers going down in a fighting effort against Kedron in their Grand Final on Friday night at Zillmere, 10.15 - 75 to 8.7 - 55.
The feeling around the traps was that the older Woodies side, ravaged by injury and taking on younger, fitter opponents would need to get on top early and get out to a strong lead before holding on late in the game to upset their undefeated Kedron side. So when the Woodsmen lost the toss and were kicking into a 5 goal wind in the first quarter, things already weren't going to plan....and when Kedron had 6 goals on the board at the 15 minute mark of the first quarter while the Woodsmen remained scoreless, all plans were out the window and the Woodsmen were shell shocked by Kedron's hot start and failed to react before the damage was done.
Going into 1/4 time with a 42 point defecit, there were still signs of positivity from the Woodsmen who felt they would now get use of the strong breeze and get back into the game. An early goal from Sean Toohey reinforced this belief, but with Kedron playing smart footy and putting numbers behind the ball the Woodsmen unfortunately couldn't capitalise on the wind and failed to add another goal to their half time tally. Kedron added two late goals against the run of play, including one from a dubious 50 metre penalty and the Woodsmen looked cooked going into half time facing a 50+ point margin.
Kedron would now have use of the strong wind in the 3rd and many felt the game would break open with Kedron's running game and long direct entries. However, the Woodies had other ideas, lifting their intensity at the contest and starting to stick the tackles they were sadly missing in the first half. With Ricky Dudley moving behind the ball to set up play and chop off Kedron's attacking forays, and Paul Eaton getting on top of Kedron star George Fitzgibbon - the Woodies began to slowly even up the flow of play without putting a score on the board.
Gerard Moore was moved into the ruck with immediate impact as the Woodies got on top in the midfield battle and managed to move the ball forward methodically, instead of the panicked use of the footy they displayed in the opening half. The Woodsmen then started to apply genuine scoreboard pressure, kicking 4 straight goals to close within 25 points late in the 3rd quarter and with the use of the breeze in the last, the crowd got involved and the intensity lifted another level again.
However, Kedron had more in them and managed to sneak home two late goals, including another from a 50m penalty to make the 3/4 time margin a more difficult 41 points and the Woodsmen would need a huge last quarter to run down the fire up Red Legs.
The Woodies came out firing and banged home 3 quick goals between the 5 minute mark and the 15 minute mark to close the margin to 20 points and a boilover was on the cards. However, a few more opportunities went begging and Kedron played smart footy to get numbers back and prevent the fast flowing footy the Woodsmen needed to run them down. Kicking 3.4 to 0.1 in the last wasn't close to enough and Kedron ran out deserved 20 point winners with a scoreless final 10 minutes from either side. After a few nervous moments late in the 3rd quarter and early in the last, the undefeated Kedron side were able to enjoy the 2015 Premiership as a frustrated Woodsmen outfit watched on.
Best players for the Woodsmen were Paul Eaton, Ricky Dudley, Chris La Burniy, Sam Curtis, Gerard Moore and the old head Chris Mihalopoulos. Ricky Dudley and Gerard Moore were also rumoured to be close to Best on Ground in post match activities.
In what was another great season for the Woodsmen, despite many setbacks along the way - the boys are entitled to be proud of their efforts in appearing in their 4th grand final in their 7th season and they look forward to bouncing back in 2016 and going one better.
The Woodies appreciate the support of the Magpie faithful and encourage anyone looking to lace on the boots to come on down in season 2016.