TATHRA has claimed its fourth successive Sapphire Coast AFL premiership with a runaway win over Pambula on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles finished strongly to claim the victory over the Panthers 17.9 (111) to 8.8 (56).
The Sea Eagles got off to a flying start, kicking eight goals in the first term to the Panthers' two.
In the second term, Pambula effectively stopped Tathra and kept the ball in its attacking half for the majority of the quarter, limiting Tathra's options.
The competition’s leading goal kicker Mitch May said there had been a concerted defensive effort from Pambula, which made the hard-fought victory even more satisfying.
“Defintely in the first half [it was hard going],” May said.
“We were lucky to get up early and run away with it in the end.”
Despite the strong defensive effort from the Panthers, May was at his accurate best, kicking “eight or nine I think – I didn't miss any”.
“It's been a great day out, especially in the wet to hold onto our marks.”
A really tough match by this point saw tempers start to flare a little, with one scuffle seeing a player from each side sent for a short cool-down in the sheds.
Continuing into the third quarter, the handful of goals scored was an indication of the strong defensive effort from both sides.
Pambula playing-coach Sean Smith was gracious in defeat.
“It was a great defensive game for three quarters,” Smith said.
“They blew us away in the first quarter with their eight goals to our two, but we matched them for the next three.
“Our guys really stood up and I'm very happy with our performance,” he said.
In the middle half of the match the Panthers reeled the Sea Eagles back to narrow the leading margin.
It wasn't until the final term when the Sea Eagles really pulled away from their tiring opponents, kicking 4.3 to 2.1 to finish on a song.
“They are are quality side and with what we had we put up a gallant effort,” Smith said.
Tathra captain Jason Ainsworth was named best on ground.
Tathra playing-coach Luke Taylor said the rain was a great leveller of teams, but he was really pleased with the way his charges handled the conditions.
“It was a really gallant effort by the boys," Taylor said.
“Wet weather brings it back to level terms and Pambula did really well dealing with it.
“I think it suits them better than our free-flowing style.”
Winning their fourth in a row should make for a particularly enjoyable celebration in Tathra tonight.
“It's an amazing effort for a small town to have had the success we've had over the past 30 years,” Taylor said.
“And four in a row is nearly unheard of.
“It's been a great ride!”
Smith said what was especially pleasing was the turnaround from the Panthers' 2012 fortunes.
“We finished last last year and then made the grand final this year – to go from the wooden spoon to a grand final is an outstanding achievement and I'm pretty happy with that.
“We have a good bunch of kids so we have a lot to go on for the next few seasons,” Smith said.