THE Kyabram Bombers completed their second unbeaten season in emphatic style on GVL grand final day at Deakin Reserve Shepparton on Sunday to bag successive flags and take its unbeaten sequence to 42 – and into a third season.
The Bombers answered the doubters – and there were quite a few – who thought they were heading for a fall in the only game that counts for the season by stopping the surging Shepparton in their tracks in another dominating display of depth, skill and sheer power.
Shepparton in recent weeks had convinced some critics it was ready to upset the Kyabram apple cart but it was obvious in the first term it was out of its league against the Bombers.
While Kyabram didn’t score, kicking into a stiff breeze in the opening stanza, it restricted the Bears to just one goal in the same period and this was really the beginning of the end for the underdog.
Former Brisbane Bear Sam Sheldon, who has had some dark finals moments in recent years, was inspiring off a back flank and the efforts of ruckman Jake Reeves and other class acts in Jordan Williams, Liam Ogden, Rhys Clark, and Lachie Smith were also looking ominous for the Bears.
In the second term power forward Billy Burstin and Smith, who was switched from defence, ignited the Bombers as they kicked 5.7 to 0.1 for the quarter to tighten their grip on the premiership by half-time when it held a 29-point lead.
Smith was used in attack with the wind and showed his versatility by kicking three telling goals.
With Reeves and Williams continuing to dominate and Ogden and Patrick Wearden snaring third quarter goals into the wind while restricting the Bears to three goals it was all over by three quarter-time.
The Bombers then held a 21-point lead and had the strong breeze to bring them home.
With Kyle Mueller making a return after being concussed and out cold in the first two minutes of the game to kick two last quarter goals along with Smith and Clark dobbing another the Bombers powered away to win by 54 points – 12.15 to 4.9.
While the bullocking Reeves, Williams, Sheldon, Clark and Ogden and Jason Morgan were the key playmakers in the win there were some unsung heroes whose contributions should not be underestimated.
Axel Child, Liam Barrett, skipper Josh Vick and Tom Holman had special lockdown jobs on key Shepparton playmakers and performed their roles with almost total authority.
Sheldon, Vick, Morgan, Barrett, Smith and Holman in particular again led a Kyabram backline that has withstood acid tests all season and again kept its rival to five goals or less.
Kyabram had some key players down in the game but again showed no side can match its depth of class over the past two seasons and it was a well deserved result in another flawless year.
Shepparton had some good players in Mitch Brett, Jonty Wardle, Sam Dunstan, Ted Lindon, Ash Holland and Nik Rokahr but many of their players weren’t allowed into the game by this mean Kyabram machine which has not been beaten since the 2015 grand final.
■Gus’s 10 best Bombers:
Jake Reeves: Bullocking ruck giant who kept the ball going in Kyabram’s direction for the four quarters. It may be his last game for the Bombers and it was another memorable one from this ruck colossus.
Sam Sheldon: Was superb particularly in the first half when he continually stifled Shepparton forward thrusts. Made good decisions with his possessions.
Jordan Williams: The Morrison Medal runner-up was again at his gut-running best in another stellar four quarters performance.
Rhys Clark: Was a busy player all day across the midfield and defence and consistently had the Shepparton defence under pressure with his penetrating kicks.
Lachie Smith: Was used to affect at either end of the ground. Kicked three telling goals as well as being part of the Kyabram defence which leaked only four goals for the game.
Jason Morgan: Was at his best in defence, particularly in the second half with some timely marks. Just one of the cogs in this mean machine’s defensive unit.
Liam Ogden: Never lets the side down. Tries just as hard when rivals have the ball as he does when Kyabram is in possession and is an inspiration with his work ethic.
Axel Child: Had the job of quelling key Bears playmaker Ben Davies and earned 10 out of 10 rating for doing it.
Josh Vick: May not have shown up like some of the Kyabram players but look at his opponent’s stats on the day and you’ll know why he is in this list.
Liam Barrett: Another Ky player who had a tagging mission in the game and did it to a tee.