The Bays are back.
Glenelg’s firepower, desperation and fresh legs were all critical components in securing its sixth Hostplus SANFL League premiership by 24 points against Sturt at Adelaide Oval.
With Ken Farmer Medallist Lachie Hosie landing the Jack Oatey Medal as best afield with six goals, the Tigers ran rampant as Corey Lyons and Matt Snook flexed their muscle at the clearances.
In front of 33,049 amid challenging 27C heat, the Bays led at every change as they kept the Double Blues goalless until Oliver Grivell kicked truly eight minutes into the second term.
The minor premier, guided by the ever-popular first-year coach Darren Reeves, ultimately had far too much depth in the midfield as Brett Turner (20 disposals, six clearances), Cole Gerloff (18 disposals, one goal) and James Bell (19 disposals, one goal) all had an impact.
The Tigers’ all round level of contributors was illustrated by vice-captain and triple Ken Farmer Medallist Liam McBean not being required to kick a goal as veteran Luke Reynolds booted three valuable majors.
Finishing with a 15-3 win-loss record after the minor round, the Tigers’ earned direct entry to the Grand Final with a Second Semi-Final win against Adelaide, becoming just the second team (Eagles in 2021) to win the flag from that position since Norwood in 2014.
Leading by as much as 41 points when Hosie booted his fourth goal five minutes into the third quarter, the Tigers were then able to dictate the terms of the game as Sturt understandably felt fatigue take hold.
The Double Blues outscored Glenelg in the final term and even had one more scoring shot for the match but the toll of having to play each week, particularly in similar hot conditions in the Preliminary Final, made a difference.
Sturt had previously won a flag under coach Marty Mattner from a losing Qualifying loss previously in 2017, as well as in 1976 but ultimately this challenge proved too much.
Double Blues captain James Battersby was his tireless self as he tried to haul his side across the line, racking up 24 disposals, 11 clearances and nine tackles to be his side’s best.
Midfield mates Jared Dakin (24 disposals, eight clearances) and Tom Lewis (21 disposals and 18 tackles) were also hard workers but there wasn’t enough respite for them when it mattered.
James Mathews tried to provide a spark with two goals in the third term for Sturt but he was their only multiple goal scorer with two.