Rennie has done it.
After 42 consecutive winless games, the ‘‘Little Master’’ has turned it around for the Grasshoppers to win their first premiership since 2011.
Playing coach Craig Ednie was instrumental for his side, while Matt Pendergast was awarded best-on-ground as they helped the Grasshoppers upset Tungamah by 13 points in Saturday’s Picola District Football League south-east grand final.
Jarryd Fountain won the toss at Katandra Recreation Reserve and elected to kick to the northern end with a strong breeze favouring his side, and the Grasshoppers used that to full effect.
The underdogs kicked three first-quarter goals to jump out to a 14-point lead at the first change, before defending bravely into the breeze in the last term to prevail 11.9 (75) to 9.8 (62).
Jake Beams got the ball rolling for Rennie, but it was Chase Strawhorn who delivered on the grandest of stages.
Damian Payne started on the full-forward, keeping Strawhorn to just one goal before quarter-time, but the big cult hero exploded after that.
Playing in front of his man, as Ednie demanded at quarter-time, Strawhorn kicked five of his side’s last seven goals sending the fans in green and white into raptures.
Kicking with the breeze in the second term, Jeremy O’Brien’s Bears needed to mount scoreboard pressure and they did, but both sides exchanged blows in splitting the eight goals kicked during that period.
Bears half-forward Tom Wilson kicked three goals in 15 minutes for his side, while Strawhorn, Ednie, and Beams responded emphatically to give the Grasshoppers an 11-point lead heading into the main break.
Ednie’s side continued to dominate proceedings in the third term keeping the Bears goalless, and they were able to do so with one extra man.
Bears livewire Drew Haebich was given a yellow card midway through the term for an off-the-ball incident.
Strawhorn and Pendergast slotted majors in the premiership term, with the former’s second goal of the quarter giving the Grasshoppers a then game-high 31-point lead.
With a fourth premiership in five years for the taking, O’Brien instructed his troops to dig deep, work hard and believe that they could overturn a six-goal deficit.
Adam Dodd was thrown forward for the Bears with immediate effect, kicking three of game’s next for goals to bring his side back within 21 points.
Some 18 minutes into the final term Wilson added his fourth of the game to bring the Bears within three straight kicks, but it was the Grasshoppers who lifted aloft the premiership cup after two straight winless seasons.