With nothing to split the two sides after four quarters and a period of extra time, Victoria overrun the PFL in a 37-goal epic by 19 points at Elsternwick Park.
Wind back the clock to 2003 and Perth were defeated by a margin of 170 points by the Vics in a fixture that ultimately put an end to senior state footy.
20 years on, our senior men’s side got a shot at redemption, and they certainly did not disappoint.
After a 39-point comeback from Perth and a missed shot after the siren to win the game, Victoria kicked away in the second half of extra time to snatch a stirring 20.10 (130) to 17.9 (111) win on home soil.
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At the opening bounce, Perth were reacquainted with a familiar face in Ben Harding, who captained their side in 2021, this time donning the Big V. PFL stung their former teammate’s side early with Kyle Hamersley kicking the opening goal after just 40 seconds.
A Victorian forward line shared by Old Scotch and Old Xaverians steadied the early momentum from Perth, opening their account just before the 10-minute mark through Charlie MacIsaac.
Victoria piled on the next four goals before Nelson Waite took a courageous mark and slotted a second for Perth from beyond the 45-metre arc to go into the first change trailing by 21 points.
Nelson Waite (Trinity Aquinas) celebrates a goal.
The Big V asserted their dominance in the second quarter, blowing the margin out to 39 points with a much need goal from Nelson Waite coming just before the half time siren. PFL coach Craig White rallied his men together at the main break and although the scoreboard was not in their favour, there was a sense of belief in the group.
The game flipped completely on its head in the third quarter, with an inspired Perth side booting six goals to two, with Fremantle CBC's Matt Ward hitting the scoreboard first.
After the Vics replied with a goal through Luke Winter, it was the Kingsway boys from Perth who took control with five consecutive goals coming from Kyle Halligan, Trey Kennedy, Braydn Furmark and Tom Edwards-Baldwin to level the scores at 66 apiece.
Tom Edwards-Baldwin and Trey Kennedy (Kingsway) celebrate a fifth consecutive goal for Perth to level the scores.
Nathan Blee was put onto Charlie MacIsaac, Kyle Halligan became a big problem for the Vics, Josh Branchi and Chris Leonard were winning it out of the middle and David Roche’s run off half back was a feature.
Charlie MacIsaac kicked a steadier for Victoria to go into the final break with only a single kick separating the two states, setting up an all-time classic in the last quarter.
A 32-minute final quarter followed, with Perth striking early in quick succession through Matt Young and Kyle Halligan to put the travelling side in front for the first time since the opening minute of the game. It was former teammate Ben Harding who delivered a damaging blow and regained the lead for the Vics with a brilliant roving goal.
Perth were able string together two goals in a row through Blake Borrett from right on the 45-metre arc, and Matt Young for his third goal to put the margin out to 11 points in favour of Perth.
Matt Young (Mount Lawley) celebrates his third goal to put Perth ahead.
After a 50-point turnaround, the Vics needed a spark to bring them back to life which came through Ryan Valentine kicking back-to-back goals to reclaim the lead for his side. Henry Brown followed up to make it three in a row and the Vics went into time on with a 7-point lead.
Kyle Halligan showed why he has kicked 42 goals from 13 games for Kingsway this year, when he slotted his third goal to bring the margin back to one-point. Trey Kennedy kicked his third to give Perth a 5-point advantage at the 25-minute mark, sending the Perth faithful into raptures.
Kyle Halligan (Kingsway) celebrates a goal to bring the margin back to one-point.
A behind from Kyle Halligan left the door open for Victoria, and it took all of Henry Brown’s nerves of steel to kick the goal for the Vics that levelled the scores.
Not satisfied to play out the clock and restart for extra time, bodies crashed in and players willed themselves to every ball. Josh Branchi took a towering mark at centre half back with only seconds remaining on the clock and was awarded a 50-metre penalty. From centre half back to centre half forward, as the full-time siren sounded.
With scores level, to win the game for Perth, the Branchi kick fell short.
16.8.104 apiece. You can only dream about these days. Andrew Dawe, the CEO of the PFL, the only person in the stadium who picked a draw in the pre-game, now had to settle for extra time.
PFL regroup before heading into extra time.
Victoria won the extra time coin-toss and stayed with the Glenhuntly Road end of Elsternwick Park. In similar fashion to how the game started, Kyle Hamersley opened the scoring to give Perth the lead before Jack Hewitt produced a goal from a stoppage for the Vics to level the scores again as the first period of extra time ended.
With every player on the ground exhausted after four quarters and a period of extra time, the game would be decided in a final 5-minute period. It was a dream start for Victoria with Charlie MacIsaac receiving a free kick on the 45-metre arc and kicked truly. James Tarrant delivered a damaging blow for the Vics a minute later, and then Charlie MacIsaac put the game beyond doubt to overrun Perth by a final margin of 19 points.
PFL team after facing defeat in extra time.
In the forward line, the day belonged to Charlie MacIsaac who finished with six goals in a best on ground display for Victoria. Luke Winter had 35 disposals and two goals through the midfield, Ben Harding sporting a black eye was on the right side of the ledger against his old mates with 30 disposals and a goal.
Matt Ward (Fremantle CBC) was awarded as Perth’s best player, with 26 disposals and a goal. Kyle Halligan (Kingsway), Trey Kennedy (Kingsway) and Matt Young (Mount Lawley) were influential up forward, all finishing the day with three goals. David Roche (Fremantle CBC) was critical off half back with 33 disposals, Josh Branchi (Baldivis), Chris Leonard (Curtin Uni Wesley), Tom Edwards-Baldwin (Kingsway), Nelson Waite (Trinity Aquinas) and Kyle Hamersley (Curtin Uni Wesley) were instrumental through the middle.
VAFA: 5.3, 9.3, 11.6, 16.8 (104) | Extra time: 17.9, 20.10 (130)
PFL: 2.0, 4.3, 10.6, 16.8 (104) | Extra time: 17.9, 17.9 (111)
VAFA: C. MacIsaac 6, R. Valentine 3, H. Brown 3, L. Winter 2, C. Carnovale 2, B. Harding, B. Easton, J. Hewitt, J. Tarrant
PFL: K. Halligan 3, M. Young 3, T. Kennedy 3, K. Hamersley 2, N. Waite 2, M. Ward, B. Furmark, B. Borrett, T. Edwards-Baldwin
VAFA: Charlie MacIsaac (Old Xaverians)
PFL: Matt Ward (Fremantle CBC)