TWO points separated the Tathra Sea Eagles and Merimbula Diggers Aussie rules teams at half time.
Unfortunately for the visiting Sea Eagles, that is where their luck ran out.
The Diggers were able to post seven goals in the third quarter and six in the final quarter to win by a dramatic margin on Saturday.
The full time siren sounded with Merimbula running out winners 20.20(140) to 12.3(75).
Sea Eagles senior coach Luke Taylor said a lack of players had an impact, but took nothing away from Merimbula.
“Merimbula played really well, I was impressed with their game style,” Taylor said.
“To go out there with no bench, not being able to rotate.
“Straight away you’re behind the eight ball,” he said.
Despite a strong loss at the hands of the Merimbula team, Taylor said he was proud of his squad’s efforts - leading the first quarter.
“I was really proud of the guys especially in the first half.
“To come out and kick six goals to two in the first quarter.”
Tathra opened its scoring account well.
At the first quarter siren the Sea Eagles had a 23-point margin in their favour.
However, a quick turnaround from the Merimbula team saw the gap narrow to just two at half time.
A spectator described the second quarter as “Merimbula’s comeback”.
The Diggers booted five goals to Tathra’s two in the second quarter to put the home side in front at the siren.
When play resumed Merimbula never looked doubtful, dominating the third quarter encounter.
Taylor said with no players on the bench he expected a hard slog in the second stanza.
“I thought we would struggle after half time and that’s how it panned out.
“To run out the game with no bench was a really amazing effort,” he said.
Merimbula posted seven unanswered goals in the third quarter.
However, Tathra co-captain Dean Gartside was working hard in defense to stop the flow of points.
“Deano plays centre half forward, but once again with no rotation he found himself at centre half back,” Taylor said.
“Him and Mitch they carried our side through.
“[They had] the team on their back for a lot of the day,” he said.
Taylor said he didn’t want to make excuses for the loss and expected stiff competition from other teams this year.
“We’ve had a fairly good run at the top.
“Sooner or later the other clubs will catch you – it’s gonna be like that for the first half until we get blokes settled.”
However, Taylor said his squad will be ready and willing to take the paddock.
“I think if we can keep the attitude.
“No matter who we put on the park we can be competitive.
“If we keep that up I think we’ll win more games than we lose,” he said.
Meanwhile Taylor said it was a “dampener” on the season opener that games in Bega were cancelled.
“I think it’s ridiculous the game was cancelled ... unless it’s lightning and thunder you don’t call games off.
“I had a lengthy conversation with [Bombers coach] Matt Fleet and he was disappointed, he sounded really keen to get out there.
“I’m pretty sure as far as I know it was the groundsman’s call in the end .
“It is what it is and we soldier on,” he said.