Essendon’s Victorian Wheelchair Football League (VWFL) side has fallen short of claiming premiership honours at the 2020 Round Robin Carnival.
Sunday saw both the semi-finals and grand final played on the same day, with the Bombers enjoying an exhilarating after-the-siren win over Richmond before succumbing to St Kilda in the grand final.
Entering the finals in second place after a 7-1 win-loss record in the normal season, Essendon looked set for a shock semi-final exit against Richmond, which had finished third and four wins behind the red and black in the qualifying rounds.
Trailing by two points with six seconds remaining, a deft ruck tap and quick ball movement saw Bombers forward Caleb Logan take a crucial mark and execute a long-range shot to give the Dons a four-point victory after regulation time.
C L U T C H— Dons Digital (@donsdigital) December 17, 2020
The moment our VWFL side secured a Grand Final berth ?? pic.twitter.com/zDYszm6HsG
Entering the grand final on a wave of emotion, the Bombers faced the ladder-leading Saints, who had crushed Hawthorn by 39 points in their semi-final.
St Kilda showed why it was the team to beat early, racing to a 20-point lead in the first half, before two late goals ensured a competitive 32-12 scoreline at half-time.
While the Bombers improved to win the second half, the Saints’ hot start to the match proved too much to overcome, with the final result sitting 41-27 to the better of the team from Moorabbin.
Essendon VWFL star Logan said while the result was disappointing, the team was proud of its efforts to overcome obstacles which threatened to deny it a spot in the big dance.
“I’m really proud of the boys for making the grand final,” Logan said.
“We were down four rotations on the day, so to get that far with limited options was great and considering we were down the whole game, it was a good effort from the boys in the second half.”
A major positive out of the day was Logan’s incredible shot after the siren to seal a grand final berth.
The forward said the mechanics of scoring a match-winning goal came down to focus.
“I just tried to block everything out and just focus on the sticks,” Logan said.
“I thought it was just past my range, but I didn't have a good option to give it off, so I just had to go myself.”
Overall, Logan said the carnival was a terrific occasion to rotate players through roles which they might not be used to, setting the side up for a tilt at premiership glory in 2021.
“James Leonard went forward and was really good for us and (for me personally) I was used as a utility at times which is good to have in your game,” he said.
“Hopefully it will set us up well for the normal season. It gave us the opportunity to try players in different positions which worked well.”