Sensational climax for finals footy

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(Clockwise from top left) Weekend Finals victors, West Coast Eagles, Sydney City Roosters and Brisbane Broncos (Screenshots via YouTube)

Media editor Dr Lee Duffield reports on the sensational wins for West Coast Eagles, Broncos Women and the Roosters.

AFL (Australian Football League) — “Aussie Rules”

The AFL on Saturday put in the strongest bid for an intense, heart attack-inducing grand final. It was a “heart-stopper”, “epic blockbuster” and “shattering,” according to the commentators.

The West Coast Eagles, 11.13 79, defeated the Collingwood Magpies in Melbourne, 11.8 74.

It was another plaudit for the minority clubs from outside Victoria, admitted to the former VFL (Victorian Football League) during the 1980s, which led to the AFL’s formation in 1990 as the national competition.

Reported the ABC summary on the day:

The West Coast snatched their five-point victory late in the final quarter, Dom Sheed kicking the matchwinner 90 seconds before full time.

Collingwood looked like winners for most of the day, but they couldn't make enough of their chances, and ran out of run at the wrong time.

The Collingwood Magpies led off in the first quarter, getting to a 29 point lead, ending the quarter at 31-15. There was maddening balance with a points drought for most of the second quarter, as the West Coast Eagles pushed for a comeback, still trailing by two goals at the break.

Pressure continued through to scores being level at three-quarter-time, 8-7 55 (that levelling, a first for a Grand Final since 1937).

All hell broke loose for the final quarter with the lead changing as the Eagles got to a four-point lead at two minutes before the siren.

NRL (National Rugby League) – “League”

Inaugural Women's Grand Final

The Brisbane Broncos on Sunday (30 September) capped a dominant season with a clear victory in the inaugural Women's NRL Grand Final, in Sydney.

Outright favourites, they downed the Sydney Roosters, late finishers after a slow start to their season, 34-12.

Roosters defeat Melbourne in NRL Grand Final

The two-star players in doubt for the Grand Final, the Storm’s Billy Slater and RoostersCooper Cronk, both made the team on the day.

In the game, Sydney Roosters took an early lead, getting their three tries, plus penalties in the first half, leading 18-0. They were starting to make it look a little easy.

Said veteran commentator Phil Gould:

“I don’t think anyone saw this coming.”

Melbourne Storm did not get onto the board until just after 60 minutes of play, with a converted try. That was not before the Roosters had put in a field goal, providing a buffer, leaving the score at 19-6. No further action then, except for a late penalty to the Roosters, due to a kicking incident involving Cameron Munster — which brought the final score to 21-6.

Munster helped with the Storm’s defeat, getting “sin-binned” in each half — statistics saying the last time-out in a Grand Final was in 1995.

In the lead up to the Grand Final – the final game for his professional career – the Storm’s fullback, Billy Slater, survived a judicial hearing, accused of a shoulder charge in his previous game.

Cooper Cronk – introduced to the crowd as the “unbelievable” Cooper Cronk –  received predictable huge applause at game’s end.

He’d played through grinding pain with a severe rotor injury to his shoulder, sustained in the Preliminary Final a week before and lasted on-field through to the final two minutes.

Missing his kicking game and, in the words of the opposition Captain Cameron Smith, Cronk

" ... did a really good job to hide tonight ... we couldn't really get to him."

Cronk was calling out instructions and had the commentary box calling him the “mastermind” of the Roosters game and, alternatively, more a coach than player”.

Smith said:

“He’s always been a great mate of ours. After a [bad start] we were not able to make it up.”

Cooper Cronk formed part of the winning Melbourne Storm combination before moving to Sydney and joining the Roosters this year.

As part of their premiership side in 2017, he has now become the reputed first player to win back-to-back grand finals with different clubs.

Media editor Dr Lee Duffield is a former ABC foreign correspondent, political journalist and academic.

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