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SWFL 2022: South Bunbury do enough in dying stages to hold off gallant Donnybrook

South Bunbury’s 13.8 (86) to 11.6 (72) win over Donnybrook at VC Mitchell Park on Saturday ensured Julian Burgess’ first homecoming in opposition colours was a successful one.

They might have gone home with the four premiership points, but Burgess’ men had to earn everything which came their way.

There was no shortage of storylines heading into this highly anticipated clash — Burgess, Jace Cormack and Chris Atthowe all returning to the club which brought them so much joy for the first time wearing red and white, along with honouring the lives of Dr Ern Manea (both teams compete for the Dr Ern Manea Cup) and Dons legend Chris Sheehan.

Despite their tough start to the season, no one was prepared to write off Donnybrook’s chance of causing an upset, and one of Burgess’ leaders from his Donnybrook tenure got the home side up and about.

Following a 12-minute stalemate, Dons veteran Shane Cristaldi was the benefactor of a handball chain, delicately snapping through a brilliant goal on the run.

After kicking the goal, Cristaldi gleefully punched the air, with Tigers supporters audibly murmuring about how the contest would likely go to the wire.

How right they turned out to be.

Aside from the frenetic nature of contests around the ground, spectators were treated to a slice of jovial larrikinism, with Donnybrook’s Cody Miller cheekily offering advice to his former coach whenever South Bunbury ran into misfortune.

“Another clearance, another clearance,” Miller yelled towards the Tigers bench as the home side ran into the forward line. “I think you better take the boy off Burgo,” Miller added following a contest involving a young Tigers player.

At the three-minute mark of the second term, the Dons led by a game-high 24 points, however they conceded two costly goals in time-on due to ill-discipline, which left the door ajar for South Bunbury to mount a second-half comeback.

Both sides traded goals for the remainder of the afternoon, however when the Tigers needed a spark, experienced defender Tom Gorter and the elusive Kade Walldrodt stood up and delivered in arguably the match of the season to date.

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