Killarney Vale have been crowned AFL Hunter Central Coast’s 2019 minor premiers after a 7.11-53 to 2.1-13 victory over second-placed Maitland at Max McMahon Oval in the closing round of the league’s regular season.
The Bombers fired fast in the opening quarter, with Sian Georga and league-leading goalscorer Ange Jones slotting two majors each. Saints sharpshooter Jessie Burnham claimed one back in the second quarter.
The travelling side was able to enforce their 26-point lead in the second half, with Holly Buchanan and Georgia Butler both finding the mark to push Killarney Vale to a 40-point lead with just a single quarter to go.
Maitland were able to claim another goal in the last stanza, but the Bombers closed out their lead with one last major from Kelsey Acton. The fourth-quarter goal confirmed the Bombers’ 40-point lead and their first-place finish.
After a commanding regular season that saw the Bombers fall to defeat just once in eighteen rounds, the 40-point win puts the minor premiers on 68 points, eight ahead of Maitland, Wyong, and Newcastle.
“We were quietly confident at the start of the season, we had some quality recruits coming in, but having said that we lost some top-liners to overseas travel early on as well,” Bombers boss Peter Kelleher said of his minor premiership-winning squad.
“Now that we’re here at finals it’s a whole new competition I think. Any of the top six in finals could knock anyone else over, and on their day any of these teams could be the best. It’s one of the best finals groups the league has seen, I think.”
As well as the lethal attack the Bombers have dropped on their opponents across the season – the squad scored 1,796 points, 441 more than the next closest – Kelleher also pointed to his engine room as a key strength of the team.
In particular, Teneale Toker, Jocelyn Kelleher, and Sasha Edwards stood tall against the Saints on Saturday afternoon, as they had for most of the year.
“We have such a strong midfield unit, and I’m pretty lucky to have eight or ten girls that can run through the middle there,” Kelleher said. “We look to build from our half-back line, and that’s held us in good stead for the season.”
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Also on Saturday afternoon, Cardiff held off a final-round challenge from Lake Macquarie to clinch their sixth-place finished for the season. The Hawks downed the Dockers 13.5-83 to 1.1-7 at Pasterfield Sports Complex.
Elsewhere in Round 18, Wyong Lakes won the inaugural Pride Cup against Wallsend-West Newcastle with an 88-15 victory, Nelson Bay defeated Gosford at Dick Burwell Oval, and Terrigal Avoca rolled The Entrance Bateau Bay 119-nil.
At Rose Point Park, Singleton fell to Newcastle as City clocked up a 13.13-91 to 1.1-7 victory to lock their fourth-placed position, and Warners Bay closed out the final game of their season with a 116-nil win over Muswellbrook.
The league’s elimination finals are now set to be played next Saturday. Wyong Lakes faces Cardiff at Max McMahon Oval in the third-vs-sixth clash, while arch-rivals City and Terrigal Avoca travel to Weeraman Field for their knockout bout.
STANDINGS: Killarney Vale (68), Maitland, Wyong, Newcastle (60), Terrigal Avoca (56), Cardiff (52), Lake Macquarie (44), Warners Bay (40), Nelson Bay, Singleton (32), Wallsend-West Newcastle (28), Port Stephens (20), Gosford, The Entrance Bateau Bay (16), Muswellbrook (12).