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Zebras Win Stripes

In football, as they say, everything ultimately comes down to one day in September. This year, Sandringham met Port Melbourne in the 2004 VFL Grand Final at Optus Oval on Sunday.

Sandringham posted the first goal of the match via David Gallagher, but Port Melbourne quickly hit back, posting four in succession to break away to a 20-point lead. But two late goals from the Zebras reduced the margin back to six points at quarter-time.

The Zebras made it five in a row when they booted the first three goals of the second quarter, which gave them a 13-point lead at the eight-minute mark.

The Zebra's Nick Sautner got two in immediate succession, as a free kick was awarded to him after he slotted through his first, while Luke Williams booted his second to complete the trio of Sandringham goals.

Port Melbourne bounced back with two majors to peg the margin back to two points, but when Sautner added his third for the term, Sandringham took an eight-point advantage into the main break.

Sautner added his fourth in the opening minute of the second half and after Colin Sylvia kicked truly the Zebras were out to a 23-point lead, their biggest lead of the match.

Port Melbourne added the only other goal during the third term, courtesy of David Pitt, as Sandringham took a 16-point lead into final change.

But in the final quarter, Port Melbourne kicked two goals in the space of five minutes.

Sandringham coach Mark Williams was worried. The Zebras had held a three-goal lead and now their grip on the VFL premiership was slipping.

When roaming Port midfielder Ashley Watson unleashed on the run from just inside 50m, the Sandringham family at Optus Oval held its collective breath.

Watson's attempt had been right on target before it was swallowed on the goal-line by Melbourne-listed backman Chris Lamb, who took the ball over the line for a behind.

It turned out to be the save of the day. Moments later, despite being held goalless in the final term, Sandringham was celebrating a four-point win.

Sandringham's premiership was its eighth in VFA/VFL history, the Zebras having won premierships in 1946, 1962, 1985, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2004.

Sandringham and Melbourne veteran Guy Rigoni (left) played an outstanding match and won the Norm Goss Medal for the best player on the ground. The 30-year-old notched up 25 touches - 14 kicks and 11 handballs.

Final score:
Port Melbourne: 4.3 6.5 7.7  9.9 (63)
Sandringham:    3.3 7.7 9.11 9.13 (67)