Not many teams achieve the perfect season. It takes skill, commitment and a will to win. The Bentleigh Under 9 (South) achieved that feat Sunday at the SMJFL lightning premiership.
Coming into the lightning premiership off the back of an unbeaten twelve match season, Bentleigh were confident of seeing it through, especially on their home track at King Georges Reserve.
It would not however, be an easy day for the Demons. They were drawn to play Ajax, the team that had pushed them the hardest in the home and away season, along with St Pauls and Waverley Park Hawks, teams they had not played before.
St Paul’s, like Bentleigh, had gone through the season undefeated.
Game 1 vs. Ajax
Kicking into a howling wind in the first half, Bentleigh got on top early, Lachie L putting the Demons on the board with a goal off their first trip into the forward line.
Bentleigh dominated early, Ash and Harry got plenty of hard ball, while Lucas took a wonderful high mark.
Ajax managed to get the ball forward of centre late in the half and kicked two late goals to take an eight point lead into the break. It was more than an eight point wind.
Two early goals to Bentleigh, to Denver after breaking free of the pack, and to Matt from the boundary line following a wayward kick-in gave Bentleigh the lead. They looked to be running away with it.
Ajax steadied to take the lead back right after Matt’s goal. That
would be the final Ajax score of the game.
A goal to Ash from a free kick, followed by a terrific running goal by Harry, after swooping on a loose ball, and a second to Lachie L from the goal square saw the Demons skip away to a twenty point win.
Game 2 vs. St Pauls
The St Pauls game would prove to be the pivotal contest of the premiership.
The first half was the toughest Bentleigh had all season.
Kicking into the wind in the first half again, it was obvious to see this was a tough opposition. St Pauls had the better of the first half, kicking two unanswered goals, the second following a free kick for smothering the ball.
The wind was however, just as strong and a two goal lead was more than catchable.
Early in the second half, Bentleigh peppered the goals, but were unable to translate that into goals early on.
As often happens, one goal brings more. Ash got the first goal and Lachie L took a great mark and converted to give Bentleigh a two point lead going into the last couple of minutes.
An exciting last two minutes saw a Harry torpedo just touched on the line, before Lachie L took a mark and gaoled as the siren sounded to give Bentleigh a eight point win.
The end was near, just one more win was needed to deliver the premiership and a perfect season.
Game 3 vs. Waverley Park Hawks
The Hawks were yet to win a game on the day, a fact that must have given the Bentleigh boys confidence.
The first half into the wind would be key. Denver converted a free kick giving the Demons a crucial into the wind goal.
Waverley Park applied some pretty solid pressure late in the first half. Ryan capped off a great season with a telling mark down back.
Scores were all locked up at the half time break. The Hawks used the wind to kick two late goals, however Lachie L was able to offset those with a goal after a great pack mark.
It was all there for the boys from Bentleigh, coming home with the wind for the perfect season.
Early goals were a must and Lachie L duly delivered. The pressure was right on the Hawks, and that pressure told when Ash stole a kick in and streaked into goal, making no mistake.
Another goal to Ash from a free kick and a sting mark and goal from a 45 degree angle to Dylan sealed the result, delivering the premiership to the red and blue.
As the siren sounded, the ball sailed through for a point off the boot of Evan, and the boys and supporters jumped in delight at what had bee on achieved in one amazing season.
Coach Mick said post match
“The Under 9 South team have had a remarkable season. 15 wins from 15 games – what more can be said!! Today, we were drawn against three very strong teams. In all three games, we kicked into the wind in the first half and had to come from behind in each game to win”
It was undoubtedly a team effort by all the boys, not only on the day of the lightning premiership, but through the whole season. Every single player contributed to each victory.
They should all be very proud of what they have achieved.
It was a remarkable season from a remarkable team.
By Chris Meister