Rupertswood senior side won its first ever Riddell District Football League final on Sunday and there was joy – and also a sense of relief.
After years of near misses and defeats in finals they had been expected to win since joining the competition in 2013, the Sharks finally had reason to celebrate.
The Sharks held off Riddell in a hard-fought semi-final, winning 8.10 (58)-5.8 (38).
Sharks coach Kevin Fitzgerald was delighted his players had finally put together a good finals performance for four quarters after fading in their qualifying final loss to Macedon.
“We thought we could do it, but we had to put it on the park,” he said.
“I thought we were really good for three quarters last week and just ran out of legs. Today I think we were able to just keep going.
“We pretty much controlled the game in really tough conditions.”
The Sharks were the better team in the first half, and that was reflected on the scoreboard with a 27-point lead.
While they kicked well in the first half, goal kicking become a problem in the second.
With the Sharks not converting on the scoreboard, the Bombers got back into the game.
“We kicked five straight points and they kicked two straight goals [in the third quarter],” Fitzgerald said.
“All of a sudden it looks like they’re closing on us … we’ve had more of the play but weren’t able to put them away.
“If it had been 2.3 instead, we would have had a winning quarter.”
The Bombers kicked the first goal of the last quarter and looked to have the momentum early on.
At that stage, many in the crowd were wondering if the Bombers could continue the Sharks’ finals misery.
The Sharks responded, and when Lochie Muir kicked their first goal of the second half, it was game over.
Fitzgerald was full of praise for Muir and said the goal was reward for the hard work he’d done all day.
Brett Chambers controlled the back half for the Sharks with several intercept marks and proved too hard to stop.
David Morrice and Nathan Caldone were also named among the Sharks’ best.
One disappointing aspect of the game was a hand injury to Dylan Podolczak. Fitzgerald said he would be out for the season.
The Sharks will face Diggers Rest in the preliminary final.
Fitzgerald said they would assess the fitness of Dean Putt, who missed the win against the Bombers, but said he was looking unlikely to play.
“It’s on Clarke Oval and it looks like it will be wet and it could be a sluggy game,” he said.
“A wet ground probably suits them more than us.”
The Sharks reserves side’s season is over after being smashed by Sunbury Kangaroos
19.11 (125)-2.8 (20). The Kangaroos will play Diggers Rest for a grand final spot.