The Dysart Bulls broke their 27-year title drought in style, defeating the Bluff Rabbitohs 55-12 to win this year’s Purcell’s Engineering Central Highlands Men’s premiership at the weekend.
A crowd of just under 2000 were on hand at Hickey Oval, Dysart, to witness the occasion, with the win also breaking the 26-year phenomena where a team has gone through the Central Highlands A Grade season undefeated.
The Red V led from start to finish, with impressive backrower Quentin Olive scoring the opening points from a Phil Derksen grubber kick in the first full set of six.
Six minutes later, the Bulls were in again when Clayton Kilpatrick fooled the goal line defence and scooted from dummy half score his first of three tries of the evening.
Leading 12-0, nothing was stopping the Dysart juggernaut and more points came in the 16th minute when a Rabbitohs error proved costly; with James Ryan capitalising by breaking the defensive line and running 60 metres to score their third try.
Derksen’s sharp-shooting from the touchline blew the lead out to three converted tries.
In the following set, the game was all but over in the 19th minute when Josh Kilpatrick broke the line before drawing and passing to Reece Baker who scored underneath the posts to secure at sizeable 24-0 lead.
Bluff were struggling to win the battle at the ruck, but an overzealous Bulls defensive line continued to give the Rabbitohs penalties on their own goal line, and after having to defend a number of sets, the pressure became too much with the red and green able to score their first points through Leigh Coghill with four minutes to go till the break.
The Bulls led 24-6 at the break, and although Bluff were able to starve them of points for 30 minutes, they got back on the board in the 52nd minute when Clayton Kilpatrick caught the defenders behind the ruck having a snooze.
With the almighty beast being awoken again, further points flurried with Clayton’s brother Josh hitting the afterburners to score his first try in the next set, and then Clayton wanted to ensure he’d outdo his younger sibling on the try-scoring tally and bagged his third out of dummy half in the next following set.
Leading 42-6, it was becoming a fun day out for the Bulls, and the on-ground DJ even got in the action pumping Rick Springfield’s 'Jessie’s Girl' when the competition’s leading try scorer Jesse Johnson ran away to cross the chalk with 16 minutes remaining.
Josh Kilpatrick scored the Bulls’ final four-pointer in the 68th minute, before Bluff scored a consolation try through Josh Rovelli, but with three minutes remaining, it was all but over with the Bulls leading 54-12, but Baker had one more trick to get the home crowd on their feet.
With around 30 seconds to go, never having kicked a field goal in his career, Baker dropped one onto his boot from 25 metres out and added the cherries on top to the emphatic victory; the Dysart Bulls defeating the Bluff Rabbitohs 55-12.
Clayton Kilpatrick was judged as the player of the match for his impressive leadership and crafty dummy half work in the number 9 jersey.
The club last etched their name on the Bob Bainbridge Memorial trophy in 1992.
Dysart Bulls 55 (Clayton Kilpatrick 3, Josh Kilpatrick 2, Reece Baker, Jesse Johnson, Quentin Olive, James Ryan tries; Phil Derksen 8, Mitch Power goals; Reece Baker field goal) defeated Bluff Rabbitohs 12 (Leigh Coghill, Josh Rovelli tries; Leigh Coghill, Peter McLaughlin goals)
Allied Pickfords Women's competition
Earlier, the Blackwater Crushettes went back-to-back with premiership glory after defeating the Emerald Brothers Cowgirls 26-12 in the Allied Pickfords Women's decider.
In a rematch of last year's grand final, a resurgent Cowgirls outfit came out of the blocks firing and pressured the Crushettes in the opening 15 minutes of the match.
Attacking the line in the 16th minute, halfback Kailah Rogers executed and chased a perfectly-timed grubber-kick into the in-goal only for Blackwater fullback Brooke Slatter to fumble and Rogers dive on to claim first points.
Trailling 6-0, the Crushettes made uncharacteristic mistakes which gave last year's runners up the upper edge for a majority of the first half.
The opening half couldn't have ended any sweeter for the Cowgirls when Tayla Bean scooted from dummy half near the line and added a further four-pointer to the tally under the sticks with just over a minute remaining.
Blackwater coach Trent White didn't hold back when speaking to the defending premiers at halftime, and his motivational words of wisdom inspired the players, coming out of the sheds a different side in the final 30 minutes.
Tashia Anthony was first to barge over three minutes after the break, and when halfback Tasma Vesey exposed an open goal line defence with a much-needed try in the 37th minute, they were basically back to level-pegging and had all the ascendancy.
With 10 to play, Vesey took everyone back in time by scoring again on the right edge in the exact same manner she did around 13 minutes prior, and she did the exact same play again to bring up her hat-trick with 5 minutes remaining.
Although leading at the break, the game was all but over for the Cowgirls, who fought hard with only 14 players, and Rita Hill sealed back-to-back premierships for the Crushettes with a try in the corner in the final two minutes to win 26-12.
A spirited second half performance by Vesey that included a hat-trick proved to be the influence to the Crushettes' triumphant comeback, and was unanimously voted the player of the final.
The win is the club's second women's title after winning their maiden premiership by a mere try in the final minutes last year against the Cowgirls.
Blackwater Crushettes 26 (Tasma Vesey 3, Tashia Anthony, Rita Hill tries; Tasma Vesey 3 goals) defeated Emerald Brothers Cowgirls 12 (Kailah Rogers, Tayla Bean tries; Kailah Rogers 2 goals)
Prior to this match, the Under 14 Girls took centre stage for their maiden grand final, with the Dysart Bulls too good in a nail-biting affair, defeating Emerald Tigers 10-8.
Congratulations to the Dysart Bulls committee and their team of hard-working volunteers for hosting an outstanding and successful Central Highlands grand final.
The supporters showed up in numbers to back their favourite team and all involved should be congratulated for their attendance on Saturday and throughout this season.
Sincere thanks should also be extended to the Central Highlands Rugby League committee; notably President Greg Coase, Secretary Chrissy Walters, Treasurer Tracy McIndoe and Independent delegates Graham 'Storky' Campbell and Matt Pacey.
Finally, without the generous support of this season's sponsors, the competition would simply not be possible.
Thanks to: Purcell's Engineering, Allied Pickfords, Emerald Isuzu Ute, Elders Real Estate Emerald, Patrick Refrigeration, Fair Dinkum Meats, C&K MacNab Concreting, Hit94.7 and #BIGRURAL.