SWFL - Finals, Week Three: Bunbury clinches three-point win over Augusta-Margaret River in tight preliminary final clash

Bunbury moved another step closer to attaining back-to-back South West Football League premierships on Sunday afternoon.

As the wind picked up and chances of rain increased, both sides ran out onto Hands Oval eager to secure a spot in the grand final. 

Following some near misses from the Bulldogs, Bunbury superstar Brett Peake turned things around and booted the game’s first goal, putting his side in front by eight.

Hawk Jack Hick then took a stellar grab near the goalsquare before nabbing his side’s first goal. 

With Bunbury ahead 1.2.8 to 1.1.7 at the first change, both teams needed quick goals to move into a good position in the second term. 

After play edged closer to Augusta-Margaret River’s forward 50, Hawk Brett Dobson found a free-and-clear Payne and set-up the side’s second goal. 

Backed by a loyal band of supporters, the Hawks’ third moved them further in front. 

Bunbury’s bench appeared nervous when Hick expertly slotted the Hawks’ fourth from 20m out. 

Bulldog back Kane Bumann picked up several touches and stopped the visitors from creating more chances. 

The Hawks’ midfielders, however, still managed to find targets and weave through Bunbury’s centre half-back line. 

After the Hawks were caught holding the ball in Bunbury’s forward 50, Jesse Gribble lined-up to kick his first of two for the game. 

Despite Bunbury’s enthusiasm late in the term, the Hawks were still able to claim a 4.2.26 to 2.2.14 half-time lead. 

Rejuvenated by the deafening roar of the back-and-gold fanbase, Gribble and star forward Matt Martin slotted one goal each to move Bunbury to within one point. 

After Bunbury levelled the scores, Bulldog Mark Longbottom’s effort put his side back in front and in charge of the contest. 

The Bulldogs tested Augusta-Margaret River in the third, setting up a 5.4.34-all scoreline at the final change. 

Both sides refused to crumble and played out a nail-biting contest in the final quarter. 

Hawk Matthew Jukes’s goal put the visitors back in front by four, but the lead was short lived. A sublime snap-kick from Peake sent fans and teammates wild with five minutes remaining. 

The siren sounded right as the Hawks were attempting to set up another chance at goal. Bunbury sealed a 6.7.43 to 6.4.40 win in a scrappy, low-scoring afternoon of football. 

The Bulldogs will face Donnybrook in this weekend’s decider, marking the first grand final clash between the two since 2001.