BALWYN shot to an early lead and held off a second-half charge by Vermont to claim the EFL Division 1 premiership on Saturday.
On a perfect day at Bayswater Oval, the Tigers overcame some sloppy kicking for goal to prevail 12.19 (91) to 10.5 (65).
Balwyn got off to an impressive start with skipper Rennie Gilchrist opening scoring with a goal from long-range inside the first minute.
In a frenetic first term, Vermont’s gun forward Jarrod Dalton was crunched in a marking contest just five minutes into the game and had to be stretchered off the ground. He was unable to return as Balwyn took a four-goal lead into the first break.
Despite an early goal to Vermont, it was all Balwyn in the second term as they stretchedto a commanding seven-goal lead at half-time.
Rod Crowe played a blinder at half-back and Jeff Gobbels marked all that came near upfront, even if his kicking sometimes disappointed.
The third term was Vermont’s best as they put on four goals, but Balwyn hung onto a 33-point lead going into the final quarter.
Two Eagles goals early in the last quarter gave the purple army some hope of a comeback, but when another Vermont player was stretchered off after 10 minutes it became a bridge too far.
Gobbels and Luke Barker both goaled within a minute of the restart , sealing an emphatic and emotional win for the Tigers.
Gobbels won the Blue Ribbon Medal for best on ground, with his strong marking up front and three goals a joy for the big crowd.
Balwyn coach Dan Donati was elated. “I’m over the moon,” Donati said. “I knew they were ready and I’m really pleased for them.”
Balwyn dedicated the win to late teammate, Shaun Bergin, who passed away after an on field accident in last year’s finals series. “The family was here today, we all wore black arm bands,’’ Donati said. ‘‘I’m ecstatic we were able to get the win for him.”
BALWYN 12.19 (91)
Goals: L. Barker 4, J. Gobbels 3, M. Hardiman, R. McMahon, R. Gilchrist, J. Chirgwin, A. Murray Best: J. Gobbels, R. Crowe, S. Kenna, S. Tregear, B. Harris, R. Gilchrist
VERMONT 10.5 (65)
Goals: R. Ross 2, D. Mendes, N. Henley, R. Mullett, R. Wilson, A. Gileno, D. Millhouse, T. Carmody, H. Black
Best: L. Johns, R. Mullett, H. Black, D. Mendes, S. Davidson, N. Mendes