Esperance Grand Final draws crowd

A huge crowd turned out to watch the Esperance District Football Association Grand Final in near perfect conditions for football and were treated to a ripper game that went down to the wire.

Both sides had their chances but it was Gibson who triumphed over a valiant Esperance by just 7 points.

Esperance started best, scoring the first 3 goals of the match in the opening 10 minutes on the back of some good clearance work from Richard Bourne and the Wood brothers.

To their credit, Gibson tightened up their defensive pressure and worked their way back into the contest although only 1 more goal was added by both sides in the opening term.

The turnaround was on the back of some hard work from Patch Jannings and Jordan McAllister in the midfield and the Whiting brothers in defence.

Esperance’s defence withstood the pressure with Carl Newman being instrumental in rebounding and spoiling the ball in a stellar display and received good support from the reliable Jayden Symonds.

Esperance took a 15 point lead into the second quarter but Gibson had their best period in the match and turned things completely around to lead by 9 points at half time.

Sam Melican was having a big impact in the middle and in the forward line, with Sam Fetherstonhaugh and Nathan Muddie causing havoc as well.

Gibson’s tackling was great with the strength of Tom Burch leading the charge while Jake Graham started getting loose and, with his great disposal, caused some concerns for the Bulldogs.

Across half back, Sean Lindsay and Brett Whiting stood tall and strangled Esperance’s forwards.

The half time score saw Gibson 7-5 47 points to Esperance’s 6-2 38 points.

Half time saw Esperance make some changes with Roger Parsons going back and Reece Griffiths doing more of the ruck work and this had an impact.

Richard Bourne got many possessions and gained a lot of ground with his speed and agility, while Lauchie Newman did some tough “in and under” work to get Esperance back into the contest.

Up forward Ryan Neill was leading hard and providing a target and Jonah Symonds was causing some headaches.

Jye Reynolds started to hit his straps and Brayden Wood continued his good game.

Gibson also realised the game was up for grabs and they refused to yield under the pressure – winning the quarter by 4 points.

Ryan Leckie was great, Patch Jannings was outstanding with Brett Whiting, Jordan McAllister and Sam Melican also starring.

Going into the last stanza Gibson held a lead of 13 points but Esperance went bang-bang with goals to Ryan Neill and Brendan White and we had a 1 point game.

From then on it was a see-sawing affair and the crowd was on the fence cheering madly as Gibson scored a goal and Esperance would hit back with a goal but they could never hit the lead.

Finally, the 2 best players on the ground stood up.

Patch Jannings snapped a pack goal to put Gibson 7 points up with 3 minutes to go.

Esperance pressed forward for the reply on 2 occasions and Brett Whiting marked strongly on both occasions and then hit a target on the way out to run the clock down.

Both sides should be congratulated but only one side can win and this year it was the Tigers.

The Berwin Davies Medal for best afield went to Brett Whiting and Jonah Symonds from Esperance was awarded best Under 21 player.

A GRADE:

Gibson 13-9 (87 points) defeated Esperance 12-8 (80 points).

Best Gibson: Brett Whiting, Patch Jannings, Jordan McAllister, Sam Melican and Ryan Leckie.

Best Esperance: Richard Bourne, Jayden Symonds, Jonah Symonds, Reece Griffiths and Brayden Wood.