South Warrnambool’s Sam Kelly kicks one of his two goals in Saturday ‘ HFNL pre-season cup grand final before South Colac’s Jacob Roberts can get to the contest.SOUTH Warrnambool coach Matthew Peake says the Roosters took a positive step towards consecutive Hampden league premierships after an emphatic win in Saturday’s pre-season cup competition at Port Fairy.
Nanjing Night Net

The Roosters, with just five members of last year’s premiership side, scored a 52-point victory over Colac and District league club South Colac in the grand final.

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Peake, who blooded a big group of teenagers, was delighted with his side’s performances across two preliminary games and the grand final.

“That was the first step of going back-to-back in the main season,” Peake enthused after the 11.6 (72) to 3.2 (20) triumph.

“We’ve lost a lot of players but we wanted to send a message to everyone else we are not going away.”

The sizeable crowd on hand for the grand final would have left Gardens Oval thinking little had changed — a year ago the Roosters dominated the pre-season cup and six months later they were crowned premier with a 19-1 win/loss record.

“Today was about winning and giving the young blokes a go and trialling and experimenting the things we’ve been practising and training,” Peake said.

Peake made no attempt to conceal his goal of adding another regular season premiership to the Roosters’ trophy cabinet at the Friendly Societies’ Park.

“This is just a stepping stone for us to going back-to-back,” he told the crowd at the presentations.

“I’m really proud of the boys.”

South Warrnambool guaranteed itself a grand final berth after an 11-point win against Terang Mortlake in its first game and a 71-point victory over Port Fairy. Its opponent in the final was not decided until the end of the last qualifying match, with South Colac progressing after a win over Cobden, edging out Camperdown.

Camperdown and Koroit were also undefeated after their two matches.

South Colac’s inclusion in the final meant its players had a break of less than 10 minutes before backing up to play the Roosters.

The Kangaroos matched South Warrnambool’s intensity in the first 12 minutes of the opening 20-minute half, drawing to within a point. But in the eight minutes before half-time, the Roosters, with their customary slick ball movement, blew the game open with a devastating burst of 6.1 to nil.

Goals to Sam Kelly, Joe Dalton, Jake Bacon, James Hussey and Scott Maddern in that period put the game out of South Colac’s reach.

Peake rested some of his more experienced players in the second half but that did little to slow scoring, with the Roosters kicking 3.4 to 1.2.

Ruckman Mick Havlin, midfielder Joe Dalton and onballer Jarrod Thompson stood out as the Roosters dominated the clearances, but it was the performance of a host of other players like returning midfielder James Hussey, pacey teenager Sam Thomas, full-forward Kym Eagleson (two goals), marking teenager Oliver Lee and the hard-running Jordan Brown that pleased Peake the most.

“With the loss of players we had from last year, we need some of the kids to stand up,” he said.

“We needed to see how they are travelling and how they react under pressure. We were really happy.”

South Colac coach Stephen Hammond was delighted with his side’s performance to make the final.

“That’s how it was supposed to be,” Hammond said of the scoreline.

“It’s great for the boys to have a couple of wins and then come against South Warrnambool, a major league side, and see how far away they are from them.”

Hammond said the Kangaroos went into the competition without some of their better players and a series of injuries throughout the day hadn’t helped.

Captain Jake O’Dwyer suffered a dislocated shoulder in the side’s first game, a five-point win over North Warrnambool Eagles. The Kangaroos also lost vice-captain Dave Marendaz, who suffered a head injury, and another player who dislocated a finger and had to be treated at Warrnambool Base Hospital.

Ben Cox was a standout for the Kangaroos.

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