The Whyalla Football League A grade combined team has finally defeated the Spencer Gulf Football League for the first time in 18 years
The Whyalla Football League A grade combined team has finally defeated the Spencer Gulf Football League for the first time in 18 years, with a thrilling seven point, hard fought victory at Bennett Oval on Saturday afternoon.
A scintinatling first quarter set the tone for Whyalla with centre square dominance by South Whyalla ruckman Mark Phillips, giving James Gruitt, Sam Flanegan and Fraser Marshall silver service of the ball.
A goal from outside 50 early in the first quarter by Whyalla's Dean Steele set the tone with Brannan Everett, Fraser Marshall, Anthony Malcolm, Dylan Everett and Adam Nicol all kicking goals in the first quarter to leave the SGL stunned.
However, Whyalla was playing with the breeze in the first quarter heading towards the Viscount Slim end.
For the SGL, their midfielders could not get their hands on the ball, partly because of the dominance of Phillips and the midfield, but they looked rocked by the Whyalla team's ability to be first at the contest.
Early into the second quarter Whyalla was again showing its dominance, however the breeze was tricky to use as SGL's Luke Patterson began to find the ball with time and space as the Warren brothers, Hayden and Tyron began influencing the match with their sublime skillsets.
SGL midfielder Ryan Saracino put his team on his back as they booted four goals in the second term to trail by four goals at the main break.
Major questions would be asked about the Whyalla team heading into the second half and they were answered through captain Sam Flanegan whose attack at the ball set the standard for a bruising second half.
Against the breeze, the SGL kicked goals through Scott McIntyre, however Whyalla's defensive unit of Chris Beaty, Mat Koenig and Wayne Dare held strong as the SGL continued to edge back the deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
It was a nail-biting final quarter with Whyalla only registering a solitary point as they were holding onto the lead with SGL's Saracino, the Warren brothers, Travis Ley and Liam Rathmann all doing their
part to edge the SGL over the line.
However, their inability to kick straight cost them dearly as Whyalla held on to claim a famous seven point victory at the home of football in Whyalla.
Whyalla was led gallantly by midfielder Marshall who finished the game with two goals playing from the centre square, Ray McIntosh was a major handful for the SGL and his mobility around the ground caused all sorts of headaches for the SGL, Gruitt showed his toughness, while Flanegan led from the front.
Down back Adam Nicol, Beaty and Koenig picked up possessions all game, while the trio of youngsters in Toby Buhlmann, Kyle Crompton and Josh Smith ran hard all day and showed the future of Whyalla football is in great hands.
For the SGL Saracino was named best-on-ground and awarded the Jim Hewitson Memorial Medal by Hewitson's wife Aileen.
Saracino was the only player on the ground to play four quarters of quality football, however, he was supported by Tyron Warren who battled all day, Ley showed glimpses during the SGL's fightback along with Sam Dyer, Hayden Warren and Rathman.
A lot had been made of this year's WFL team, with such a star-studded outfit and the best coach in Whyalla at the helm with Magpies' leader Chad Bourke assembling 22 of the best footballers, giving Whyalla its best chance to win in a number of years.