In the words of Williamstown coach Damien Orr, the “monkey is off our back” after his club sealed its first grand final appearance in the Lacrosse Victoria men’s state league since its last premiership year of 2012.
There may not be too much sympathy for a club that had to wait only three years between grand finals, but the Fearons undoubtedly suffered in the two seasons in between.
They were minor premiers in both 2013 and 2014, only to bow out in straight sets.
There is no worse feeling than going into a finals series ranked number one and missing out on that big day.
The Fearons will not have to worry about that this season after coming from behind to beat Footscray 11-8 in the major semi-final at PJ Lynch Reserve on Saturday.
“It’s a bit of a monkey off our back after the last couple of years,” Orr told Star Weekly.
“We’ve had a remarkable year as a club to put every team from juniors right through to seniors into grand finals.
“We’ve gone straight through and now we just have to ride our luck when we get there.”
The calm before the storm delivered the Fearons their win over Footscray.
They were on the back foot in the first half, but their sound defence met every challenge thrown down by the Scray.
Goaltender Evan Willis was superb, making repeated saves to frustrate the Scray, while captain Jason Mackinnon walked tall in the Fearons’ backline.
The Fearons got some offensive flow going in the second half before launching a scintillating five-goal fourth-quarter blitz.
At the forefront of the offence was Daniel Jennings, who finished with a game-high six goals.
“He had a significant impact,” Orr said. “It was just a matter of us breaking Footscray down. We worked hard on spreading the offence wide and then picking them apart when the opportunity came.”
This was a victory built on Williamstown’s solid defensive foundations.
Orr is tight-lipped about what makes his defence one of the toughest in the competition.
“I don’t think anybody’s worked out what we’re doing yet,” he said. “We use a couple of different defensive schemes that work well for us and confuse the opposition.
“I’m also fortunate that I have very good personnel [to carry it out].
“The depth of our team is what’s helping us at the moment on both offence and defence.”
The Fearons’ grand final opponent will be decided in Saturday’s preliminary final between Footscray and Malvern at Mont Albert Reserve.
“It’s going to be fun either way,” Orr said. “Malvern is our arch-rival and Footscray is the strength team of the last few years.”