Oakleigh charges home to win back-to-back flags

Eastern vs. Calder-1
Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Wong of Bound For Glory News

Eastern Ranges 9.7 (61)
Oakleigh Chargers 10.13 (73)

Eastern goals: J.Stephenson 3, B.Hardwick 3, C.Brown, R.Clarke, A.Cotte.
Oakleigh goals: T.Phillips 2, H.Thompson 2, P.Phillips 2, P.Kerr , L.Walker, B.Crocker, A.Morgan.
Eastern best: A.Cotte, D.Crocker, J.Stephenson, R.Clarke, A.Brolic, B.Hardwick
Oakleigh best: K.Answerth, P.Phillips, T.Phillips, D.Cunningham, L.Sullivan, L.Walker

The Oakleigh Chargers made it back-to-back premierships and two flags in three years on Sunday, clinging on for a narrow 12-point victory against the Eastern Ranges at Etihad Stadium.

Despite trailing by 30 points at half time, the Ranges were able to get themselves back into the contest with a five goal to none third quarter. The final quarter saw only three goals, with the Ranges never able to hit the lead.

Chargers 19-year-old midfielder Kade Answerth was adjudged best on ground after collecting 30 disposals. Answerth missed out on being drafted last year and dominated the midfield collecting 10 clearances to help the Chargers clear the ball from the stoppages.

Eastern Ranges midfielder Ryan Clarke who had stood out this finals series, was kept to 18 disposals. The Chargers made an important stance with Clarke, bumping and knocking him off the ball in an attempt to wear him out. Clarke can be pleased with his season, averaging 31 disposals in the TAC Cup this year.

Earlier the Chargers got out to an early lead with the Phillips duo (Patrick & Tom) kicking three goals between them in the first quarter. Chargers bottom age forward Pat Kerr kicked the first goal of the match while U16 Vic Metro representative Jaiden Stephenson kicked the first goal for the Rangers.

The Chargers kicked four goals to one in the second term, allowing for the margin to slip away from the Ranges, with Oakleigh leading by 30 points going into the half time break.

After half time the Ranges made the bold move of starting midfielder Ryan Clarke forward. Clarke immediately made an influence kicking the first of the quarter. The Rangers continued to control the play and were able to kick five goals to none to bring the margin back to two points with a quarter to play.

The third quarter had seen Stephenson and TAC Cup leading goal kicker Blake Hardwick both kick two goals, providing targets inside 50. Hardwick’s goal after the siren gave the Ranges momentum going into the third quarter.

With the margin close, the pressure and intensity of the game went up. This resulted in only three goals being kicked. Charger Alex Morgan ran forward and converted the first chance for the quarter, allowing for some breathing space between the teams.

Despite kicking six behinds for the game, Pat Phillips was able to nail his final shot on goal near the final siren, all but confirming Oakleigh’s status as the best team in 2015.

Pat Kerr’s shot after the siren was not required, as Oakleigh continued their dominance of winning three of the last four premierships by defeating Eastern by 12 points.

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