PICOLA United Football Club has been crowned champions of the Picola and District Football League — again.
United went in to Saturday’s grand final against Strathmerton at Blighty as the reigning premier and came out as back-to-back title holders, conquering the Bulldogs by 18 points.
Coach Jon Varcoe said there was plenty of relief at the final siren, having been at the helm of the club for both premierships.
‘‘The moment after the game was really quite amazing,’’ he said.
‘‘There was a lot of relief and excitement amongst the group, especially after our reserves ended up winning fairly well.
‘‘For two teams to achieve a premiership on the same day was a massive step forward for the club, and it was incredible celebrating the occasion together.
‘‘It made the day better because of that.’’
The reserves grabbed control of their game early and had several players stepping up at important times to register the 47-point victory over Strathmerton.
They faced a lot of difficulties with injuries in the middle part of the season and had to rely on several under 17 players to fill the gaps.
But they were back to full strength for Saturday’s grand final clash and played extremely well as a team for the outstanding win, 13.8 (86) to 5.9 (39).
The same brand of footy was displayed in the next game as the seniors also got off to a good start against long-time rivals Strathmerton, whom they defeated in the 2016 grand final.
‘‘To Strathmerton’s credit they really came to play and took the game right up to us,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘They had a solid game plan which worked well in the first half, but we were able to make some adjustments to take the game into our own hands in the third quarter.
‘‘It came down to a bit of a dog fight in the last quarter and we couldn’t really relax at all until the final siren went.’’
Straight kicking with the wind saw Picola take an early advantage, scoring three goals to one goal and two behinds to lead by 10 points at quarter-time.
Strathmerton looked to make the most of the scoring end in the second quarter, but was wasteful kicking one goal and seven behinds in the term.
‘‘When we got the ball into our attacking end of the ground we were able to score,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘Strathy missed a few shots in the second quarter which meant we were just able to hang on to our lead.
‘‘If they kicked those it would’ve made a big difference to the scoreboard.’’
Picola went into the half time break with a five-point lead, having kicked one goal of its own.
They brought on Kian Wise as sub in the third quarter, who was inspirational for the team kicking three goals in the third to help extend the margin to 35 points at the final change.
He combined with the other small forwards in Thomas Byrnes and Adam Jorgensen, each finishing with two goals, to lock the ball in their forward line while the entire team gained control of the midfield.
‘‘Those three are some of our youngest players and each stepped up at crucial times to hit the scoreboard,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘They’re mature for their age and have been playing senior footy for a while.
‘‘At this level it’s important to back them and build their confidence.
‘‘But there were contributions across the field and from our perspective it was a real team effort.
‘‘Everyone did their bit when it mattered and the boys rallied as a team to get the result.’’
But even after their impressive third quarter the game never looked in the bag for the Blues.
The Bulldogs came back firing in the final term and continued to get the ball forward to kick four goals in the fourth while United had some nervous shots, one hitting the post and another narrowly missing.
They managed to finally get one through for a goal and held on to win 11.4 (70) to 7.10 (52).
Strathmerton’s Max Canfield was named best player in the final while John Walker, Rhys Woodland, Jorgensen, Ian Fry, Tim Scadden and Wise were in the bests for United.
With the season over Varcoe said he expected some changes to the playing list next year, but expected most to stick around.
‘‘There’s around 11 stepping up from under 17s we’re pretty excited about,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘But we’ll go and recruit some people to come in and fill any spots on our list we think we need and hopefully doing that we will challenge again next year.’’
The thirds went down in their grand final against Jerilderie 1.7 (13) to 15.13 (103).
Picola’s under 13s managed a win in the netball over Blighty, 21-17, while its under 15s went down 35-42 to Tocumwal and C grade also going down to Jerilderie, 25-38.