GREAT Western suffered a devastating Mininera League grand final heart break at the hands of the SMW Rovers on Saturday.
It was a mere nine point loss that ended the dream for the Lions.
The conditions were absolutely perfect - sunny, low breeze, and a huge supporter base for the side.
Right from the start the Rovers got onto the front foot and got themselves an 11 point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Rovers' playing coach Ben Tait said his side didn't waste any time getting the game on its terms.
"The way they came out and started the game straight away - they didn't take five or 10 minutes to get into it, they just went straight away," he said.
"I couldn't be more proud of the boys."
The game continued to get away from the Lions, and by half time the score was Lions 4.5 (29) and Rovers 6.7 (43).
"What helped us across the line was our physical pressure - our smothers, our tackles," Tait said.
"They didn't break them, many of them, and from the word go it was just so physical.
"I think we got under Great Western a little bit; they were expecting a hit every time.
"We went in saying that, that we just needed to get in there early and just really put the physical pressure on them.
"They were never out of the game.
"Full credit to them, they just kept fighting back but every time they kicked on we just seemed to find a way to kick it back."
In the third quarter the Lions made a comeback and brought a slim ray of hope to the side.
Lions reserves coach Matt Delzotto said their second half effort got the Rovers running.
"It was a red hot game and that's what we expected from the Rovers," he said.
"Our guys, to our credit especially in that second half really stood up to it and got our running game going at times, which got us back in the game, and really gave us a chance to win it at times if not for a couple of errors at times."
Those errors added up; Delzotto said the outcome was devastating.
"Obviously we're pretty gutted," he said.
"It was a super effort. It's been a really good consistent year by a lot of footballers and the club's obviously worked really hard, and everyone involved has.
"At the end of the day you didn't get the reward for all the effort so really gutted, but at the same time really proud of the playing group as a whole.
"We had a really tough night Thursday night where we let about eight blokes know they weren't going to be a part of the 21 this week, so it was a pretty hard week.
"Everyone was just fantastic. It was a real team first environment and a testament to the club and the playing group, and the club as to how they went about it."
Lions reserves named the following as best players: J. McCartney, T. Shalders, J. Thomas, N. McCartney, A. Mullane-Pratt, G. Sawyer.
Earlier on in the day at the under 16.5 grand final a strong start helped Hawkesdale-Macarthur's side to victory.
In a low-scoring affair, the Eagles jumped to a 15-point half-time lead before securing a 7.10 (52) to 2.2 (14) win over Glenthompson-Dunkeld at Lake Bolac.
Eagles co-coach Paddy Kelly said everyone did their part for the team.
"It took all 22 blokes to get there and all 22 to lift that cup up at the end," he said.
The co-mentor, who shares the duties with Charlie Summers, said he was impressed by his side's ball movement.
"It was the way they moved the footy, they moved it from one end to the other really quick," he said.
"That was one of our strengths this year."
He also praised his team's contested ball work.
"They kept finding another gear in each quarter," he said.
Centre half-back Fletcher Cozens was awarded both best on ground medals for his outstanding performance.
"We used him as a centre half-back that could go across the ground," Kelly said.
"He reads the play well, cuts off the ball and switches play really well.
"He's a good utility player."
Glenthompson-Dunkeld co-coach Mitch Johnson said the Eagles were the better team on the day.
"They were just too good right from the start really," he said. "Our endeavour and effort was there all day.
"They were just too classy with the footy and used it better than we did."
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