THE Bega Bombers’ dramatic 16-point win over Tathra on Saturday is sending ripples through the Aussie rules community, and for good reason.
The Bombers won the match handily 13.15 (93) to Tathra’s 12.5 (77).
The win will see the senior Bega outfit play finals football in just its second year as a club, while the day also coincided with coach Matt Fleet’s 150th game in Sapphire Coast AFL (SCAFL).
Fleet said he was a bit “embarrassed by all the hype” in the lead-up to the game, but settled down as play started.
“I was a bit emotional by the end of the game,” Fleet said.
The win also ensures the Bombers will be playing finals football, after a two-point closure at the Panthers game didn’t lock in the placings.
“We were only 1.5 wins ahead of Narooma with two to play, so this locks us in,” Fleet said.
“The crowd was amazing and it was a great day for the club.”
It was a tense final five minutes for the Bega squad after Tathra’s Dean Gartside fired a salvo of three consecutive goals to have the Sea Eagles two points in front.
However, Bega ruckman Shannon Shepherdson doubled his efforts to see play move forward for the Bombers.
The midfield combinations of Steven Luff, Billy Harris, Scott Hay and Chris Dwyer saw the Bombers moving back to the attack where Adam Blacka and John Harney sealed the deal.
“‘Moona’ [Harney] played his best game ever for the Bombers - especially against his former club,” Fleet said.
“Dale Leahy and Chris Dwyer, they just ran all day the pair of them.”
The club also had a strong defensive display through Larry Fuller and Justin Welsford to hold off some of the Sea Eagles’ strongest goal-kickers.
“I gave Justin a job to do on Reggie [Ryan O’Loghlin], while Damien Stackpole kept Bayden Pilbeam quiet for the second half, which was a massive effort and he did the job we needed him to.”
Fleet said he didn’t doubt any of his players across the field as they rallied the deficit to win in the dying stages of the game.
“It was the usual thing from the Bombers, a tremendous team effort right across the park.
“Bruza [Luke Taylor] sums it up the best; when you play the Bombers they give you all day, that’s what he was telling his blokes.”
Fleet said the rivalry between the two clubs was friendly.
“It was a real credit to Tathra, they are a terrific bunch of blokes and their sportsmanship all day was just outstanding.”
The only concern for the club now is the risk of an elimination final falling on a Sunday.
With a number of players involved in the local rugby league and soccer competitions, Fleet said the move “might hurt the Bombers numbers wise”.
The draw will depend on the results of the matches between the Bermagui Breakers, Merimbula Diggers, Narooma and Tathra on Saturday.
Depending on the results, Bega will face Bermagui in an elimination final on the following Saturday, or Tathra on the Sunday.
However, Tathra shared similar concerns and both clubs are in talks with SCAFL to consider a rescheduling option.
Tathra playing-coach Luke Taylor said the Eagles are eager to dive into the finals.