K rock Football

Connors the hero for Saints

St Mary’s players celebrate Nick Connors match-winning goal. (Sports Media Image)

A RUNNING goal from Nick Connors that stopped the clock with two seconds remaining has seen St Mary’s erase the heartache of three consecutive grand final losses with a two-point win over Colac at GMHBA Stadium, 10.14 (74) to 10.12 (72).

In the closest decider since the draw between the Saints and Bell Park in 2003, St Mary’s – which had led by 27 points early in the third quarter – found themselves seven points in arrears when Tiger Adam Garner snapped truly at the 21-minute mark.

The Saints, who were aiming to become just the second team to win the GFL premiership from fifth spot, then peppered the goals during time-on.

Hayden McMahon missed to the right with a set shot, which was followed by Jack Blood missing a chance to level the scores only a minute later.

With 35 seconds remaining, Doug Bond’s shot that would have put St Mary’s in front was touched on the line by Lachie Simpkin, and it appeared the Tigers had done enough to hang on as they held a four-point lead.

From the kick-out by Simpkin towards Brownlow Stand half-back flank, the ball bobbled around in the pack, and Tom Lang was able to knock to the ball into the path of Connors, who slotted the goal of his life from just outside 50m.

A premiership player at North Shore and a flag-winning player and coach at Geelong Amateur, Robertson labelled it the best local game of football he’s been involved in.

“It was stressful, it had high skill, really good footballers, crowd involvement, swings and roundabouts, and we just asked our boys to hang in,” he said.

“That was the theme for the day, and they did.”

Midfielder Ben Moloney was awarded the AFL Victoria Medal as best-on-ground, while Doug Bond was the most influential forward on the ground with four goals

Veteran Jake McGuane and GFL Team of the Year centre half-back Adam Garner, who was moved forward in the second half, both kicked two majors for Colac.

Young big man Zach Zdybel, midfielder Jarryn McCormack and veteran Dean Felekos did all they could to get the Tigers over the line.

Colac co-coach Rowan McSparron was taking a philosophical approach following the match.

“There’s got to be a winner and there’s got to be a loser, and, unfortunately, it’s us today,” he said.

“For all money, we thought we’d just done enough to keep in front, (but) the footy gods didn’t smile on us in the last passage of play.”

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ST MARY’S  3.7, 5.8, 8.10, 10.14 (74)

COLAC  0.0, 2.5, 6.10, 10.12 (72) 

Goals; St Mary’s: D. Bond 4, J. Travaglini 2, J. Blood 2, B. Moloney, N. Connors

Colac: A. Garner 2, J. McGuane 2, C. Stephens, J. Simpkin, T. Woodmason, K. Spokes, L. Gorwell, A. Walters

Best: St Mary’s: N. Connors, T. McMullan, B. Moloney, P. Dowling, D. Bond, A. Banjanin

Colac: Z. Zdybel, J. McCormack, D. Felekos, R. Monaghan, T. Woodmason, E. Floyd