SWFL 2022: South Bunbury display true grit against gallant Donnybrook

Justin Fris and Justin FrisBunbury Herald
Shaun Crane toes the ball forward during the early stages of Saturday's clash at Hands Oval.
Camera IconShaun Crane toes the ball forward during the early stages of Saturday's clash at Hands Oval. Credit: Justin Fris

For 2½ quarters on Saturday night at Hands Oval, Donnybrook stared down premiership hopefuls South Bunbury and waged a war of attrition.

Riding a wave of emotion from Shane Cristaldi’s 250th game, the Dons looked on course to push the Tigers until the final siren.

However it was from a moment of adversity that South went on to record their 7.11 (53) to 4.5 (29) win.

The Tigers faithful collectively had hearts in mouths at the 16-minute mark of the third term when big man Tim Sutherland hit the turf in pain on the scoreboard wing.

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Escorted off the ground in the arms of two trainers, Sutherland appeared to severely dislocate his shoulder, to the point where it was in a backwards position.

Not content to compromise his welfare South Bunbury officials ensured Sutherland was driven to hospital, with his long-term diagnosis to be confirmed in coming days.

The Game AFL 2024

Rather than folding in distress, the Tigers lifted with a late goal in time-on to Rocco Versace giving the home side a valuable spur heading into the final term.

Urged on by Tigers coach Julian Burgess, the home side extinguished Donnybrook’s resistance midway during the final term, with two goals in as many minutes.

While the Dons did not return home with four premiership points, they did show tremendous composure against a genuine premiership threat.

And of course club great Cristaldi — the deserved man of the hour — displayed once again why he is revered throughout the SWFL.

Playing predominantly up forward, the veteran set the visiting supporters alight early in the first term with a pinpoint kick hitting Luke Dale on the chest and generating a shot at goal.

After the game, Cristaldi and Burgess — who shared so many good times at Donnybrook together — embraced each other, which again proved mutual respect in football isn’t confined to what colours you are wearing.

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