Storm suffer second grand final defeat to Lower South West

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

For the second straight year, the Great Southern Storm have fallen short of a title at the Great Southern Colts Carnival, defeated by Lower South West Football League in a tense grand final at Kulin on Sunday afternoon.

Lower South West re-joined the carnival last year in Lake Grace, going on to win the grand final by 10 points, and history repeated itself as they were able to withstand strong fightbacks by the Great Southern Storm to win back-to-back titles, by 24 points.

Both sides reached the decider with an unblemished record in their two games on Saturday and it was a well-drilled Lower South West that made all the early running with three quick goals, including two from Kyle Wilson.

A steadying goal from vice-captain Corey Hitchcock snapped the Storm into action and majors to Jaxon Nottle and Regan Askevold had them in front by two points at the first change.

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In a frustrating second term, the Storm wasted opportunities on goal, scoring three points from six inside-50 entries and Lower South West made them pay with two of their own to hit the front.

The Storm rallied in the third term as twice they trimmed the margin to three points, but Lower South West continued to find goals right when they needed them and went into three-quarter-time up by 11 points.

The task looked almost out of the question when Lower South West booted the first two goals of the all-important final term, including a third to dynamic forward Mitchell Blakers, as the margin stretched to 23 points, but the Storm came again. Big man Hamish McMorran jailed his second from a set shot and Hitchcock reduced the deficit to 11 points with less than six minutes to play.

The Storm locked the ball inside their forward half but couldn’t find another goal as the margin got as small as nine points. Jonty East then ensured a Lower South West victory, 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58).

Blake East was awarded the Clem Bray trophy as the best player in the grand final while Mckenzi Nix and Blakers (three goals) were also highly influential.

The Storm were best served by the lively Brandon Woods, ruckman Stewart Davies, small defender Jack Steel and young star Tom Baldwin but coach Phil Gilbert said his side’s execution let them down.

“We knew coming in they would be tough — they are a slick unit,” Gilbert said.

“We got in front but they would always find a reply and kick quick goals.

“I didn’t think we controlled the ball enough, didn’t play it enough on our terms and our execution into the forward line was terrible.

“We had every chance so there were no excuses, it’s just another opportunity lost.”

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