LEITCHVILLE/GUNBOWER has gained revenge for their last two Heathcote District Football Netball League grand final losses with a 26-point victory over arch rivals North Bendigo - who had defeated them in the two previous deciders.
On a near perfect surface at Huntly, the Bombers claimed their first senior flag since joining the competition in 2010, as well as the club's first title since its 1995 success in the Northern and Echuca Football League.
The win was particularly sweet for Bombers coach, Matt Hawken who had previously declared this season his last as senior coach.
Hawken had not previously been involved in a premiership side in a storied coaching career and and was justifiably proud of his side, who withstood several challenges from North on the day after being the dominant side for much of the day.
"It's fantastic – this group has worked extremely hard this year and the core group from the last couple of years just were not going to let this one go," he said.
"We were 18 points up at three-quarter time and if North had got the first goal in the last that would have given them a huge lift but Coatsey (Daniel Coates) got the first for us and from there we never looked back."
Coates had been a top performer for the Bombers all day, relentless in his efforts to drive the ball toward goal yet had saved his best for the final term - three goals plus a couple more missed from set shots from the livewire forward and another goal from classy youngster Luke Sevior extended the Bomber lead to 40 points at the 20-minute mark.
A tense final 10 minutes followed, with the Bulldogs getting the last two goals of the game but as they had found all day, Leitchville/Gunbower's defence stood firm with Ryan Prendergast, Logan Prout and Jackson McEwen desperately unwilling to let the lead disappear.
The Bulldogs, who had been playing catch-up football for most of the day, couldn't match the leg speed of the Bombers' backmen, with Prendergast running off Sam Barnes and teenager Prout negating the efforts of Brady Herdman, who had been one of the Bulldogs' best until half-time.
McEwen - who had missed most of last year's grand final through injury - mopped up loose balls with lightning efficiency, exposing the tired Bulldogs' lack of genuine pace and providing a platform for attack.
"We held them off really well and it's a credit to our backman that they didn't panic after North got a couple of late ones," Hawken said.