A MERIMBULA/PAMBULA/BOMBALA try in the dying stages denied Tathra/Cobargo Eels a Group 16 under 18 title at Bega Recreation Ground on Sunday.
The Eels seemed destined to claim the silverware, leading 18-16 with two minutes remaining on the clock.
However, a last ditch effort saw the Bluedogs’ Corey Schafer pull-off one of the plays of the year.
The Eels’ Lachlan Carey had just scored to snatch the lead with six minutes of play remaining, and on the resuming kick-off Schafer managed to find touch, resulting in a Bluedogs scrum feed.
A period of sustained pressure on the Eels try line created an overlap down the right hand side, and when Bluedogs five-eighth Zack Mikula’s pass found a flying Baden Sinclair, the result was sealed when the lock dived over in the corner for a 22-18 victory.
The under 18 encounter was a highlight of grand final day. Both teams displayed controlled aggression.
Tathra/Cobargo president Peter Finucane praised his young charges for never giving up.
“Grand finals are usually the toughest game of the year and Sunday’s match was testament to that.
“Our boys hung in there to the end and unfortunately when the final siren sounded we were on the wrong side of the scoreboard, but you get that in grand finals,” he said.
“The boys were obviously disappointed, but you can’t win everything. We had a very good year all round.”
Finucane said the difference between the two sides was teamwork.
“We started off really well to take an early lead, but then had a rest for a while,” he said.
“Merimbula played a bit more team football, while we probably played a too much individual footy.
“But we can’t take anything away from our boys.
“They battled hard all game and nearly came away with a win. They should be proud of their efforts this year, they did a great job.”
During the Group 16 presentations after the match, Carey was named under 18 player of the year.