By Grace Knight
The Bull Sharks QFA seniors fell short of delivering the club a clean sweep of premierships when they fell by 40 points to the Burleigh Bombers in Saturday’s Grand Final.
While the performance in the premiership decider was not what the club had hoped for, Director of AFL Andy Lovell, his players and staff can take pride in the incredible gains made across the whole club in 2023.
Lovell took over a club that had only one side qualify for a grand final in 2022, the women’s reserves.
Along with trusted lieutenants Shaun Hart and Matthew (Max) Kennedy, Lovell designed a football program that saw the club make the Grand Final in all four grades, winning three.
The Bull Sharks seniors entered the final with high hopes, having claimed the minor premiership, but they ran into a Bombers outfit that was too good on the day.
The 15.6 (96) to 8.8 (56) was only Bond's third defeat of the season, a bitter pill to swallow, given the stakes.
How it unfolded
From the first centre bounce Burleigh came out firing and scored the first goal of the game seconds after the siren, setting the tone for the contest.
Refusing to be startled, Bond kept the pressure on and had some great energy throughout their backline and mid-field.
Despite the Bull Sharks’ best efforts, Burleigh’s back-heavy structure made it almost impossible for the Bull Sharks to make any quality connections with their forward line.
Bond managed to score their first point midway through the first quarter, but continued to struggle in penetrating the sea of red guernseys that flooded the Bull Sharks’ 50.
Burleigh continued to pile on the pressure, scoring another goal while Bond added another behind.
At the end of the first quarter, the score stood at 3.1 (19) to 0.3 (3).
Burleigh once again kicked the first goal of the second quarter, but Bond swiftly answered back when Morgan Ferres managed the first goal on the Bull Sharks’ tally.
Momentarily, the game appeared to take a turn when Jack Tilley added another quick goal to reinvigorate Bond's spirits.
Just when the Bull Sharks thought they were making ground, Burleigh responded with two quick goals of their own.
At halftime, the score was to Burleigh 7.2 (44) to 3.3 (21).
Bond started the third quarter on a positive note kicking a quick goal, but for every step they took forwards, Burleigh knocked them back twice as hard.
Bond continued to chip away at the margin, but Burleigh shut down the Bull Sharks’ spirits when they went on to bank another six goals by the close of the third quarter.
At three-quarter time the Bombers led by 41 points.
The Bull Sharks entered the final quarter understanding the urgency of the situation, however Burleigh's relentless pressure proved to be too much for Bond.
Burleigh maintained control of the game, shutting down any opportunity for Bond to make a comeback.
Whilst every player showed incredible strength and determination a few players made some exceptional contributions to the Bull Sharks’ overall campaign.
Ryan Dienjes was a force to be reckoned with in Bond’s backline, repeatedly intercepting Burleigh’s entries inside 50 and creating crucial turnovers in favour of Bond.
The Bull Sharks’ entire midfield played an outstanding game, working tirelessly on what is a sizable field at Fankhauser Reserve.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to have been outplayed but I’m really incredibly proud of our boys,” said Lovell.
“They’ve had a terrific season but unfortunately Burleigh were the better team today.”