The Bega Devils have secured their third-straight first grade football premiership.
The Devils scored a 4-3 win in a heated grand final showdown with the Wolumla Tigers on Sunday after leading 1-0 at the break.
It was an outstanding result for Bega, who had also locked out the result in the 16s, and 14s earlier.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were stood up in all three senior grades, going down earlier to Eden in the women’s 2-1 and the same scoreline in favour of Merimbula in the reserve grade contest.
However, the Devils were going in as underdogs during the headline first grade draw after losing their last two outings against the Tigers.
“Some good coaching and captaincy really helped build team moral to place confidence in the players that they could over turn the recent results against wolumla,” midfielder Chris Dwyer said.
The first half was incredibly even with Bega clinging to a 1-0 advantage after Adam Blacka opened the scoring for the Devils up front.
“You know what Adam is going to bring each week, he brings experience and presence and teams pay attention when he’s on the field,” Dwyer said.
It was the first of two Blacka would land for the day, later scoring a neat header in a one-on-one with Wolumla keeper Ross Oldham.
Clancy Morrison, Ross Jones and Dillon Douch were key in the attack for Bega using their speed to break containment and run some good passages up the flanks.
However, Wolumla were quick to respond through Matt Grant, Tom Adams and Tim Hodgkin with strong runs of their own.
Both keepers had been put under plenty of pressure early and were showing few signs of cracking with some stunning saves.
However, the immense speed of play began to take its toll in the second half, and the dam broke at both ends as a scoring frenzy opened up late into the second half.
Hodgkin had levelled 1-1 early on after a cross from the left saw him drive home a brilliant goal.
However, Bega replied shortly after with a corner kick going long over the net, but a Blacka header putting back into the fray for Dillon Douch to finish at close range.
Bega quickly followed it up and the lead was 3-1 and then soon after Blacka’s header off a corner extended the margin to 4-1.
Just one minute remained on the clock, but officials extended play by about five minutes due to injury and play delays.
It was during this extra time Dwyer said there was a “split second” of concern for the Devils as the Tigers fought back with two rapid fire goals.
Pressure on the Bega box forced a hand-ball and Goodlock made no mistake with the dot shot.
Then a blitzing last-minute run by Matt Grant saw the Tigers again in good position to slot a final goal and finish off 4-3.
Bega captain Phil Chapman was named man of the match with a standout display from the Bega backlines that included single-handedly turning away plenty of Wolumla attacking raids.
In earlier grades, the Wolumla Tigresses had come close to cracking their first premiership after 21 years, but just narrowly dropped pace for Eden to clinch a 2-1 win.
The Eden Killer Whales had been the standout team throughout the season and were showing exactly why they finished as minor premiers with some exceptional ground control of the ball.
However, after having close battles with the Eden roster all season, the Tigresses were equally showing their best form with an outstanding defensive display that left the Killer Whales increasingly frustrated heading to half-time.
The returned Brianna Rubly and Tegan Grant added depth to the Wolumla backline to help contain the near-constant attacking runs headed by Kamilla Grubesic and Amber Seckold.
Eden’s bursts started out of the midfield where veteran Debbie Heron was working through open space, while Wolumla’s Janet King had a great match in the unenviable position of having to mark woman of the match Talia Westley.
Wolumla held out the entire first half and teams went into the break 0-0 to talk tactics.
With the ends switched, Wolumla were the ones launching some early attacking runs and it was a long-range strike from Sam Johnson that soared high to tip over the Eden keeper’s reach for the opening goal to thunderous applause from Tigers’ fans.
However, on a return run by the Killer Whales, the Tigresses coughed up a dot shot from an unfortunate hand ball. Kamilla Grubesic lined up on the spot and the kick was initially deflected by keeper Anna Martin, but still in play for Grubesic to charge in and finish.
With about five minutes left to play it was again Grubesic who was able to finish a strong attacking run with a left-to-right strike at goals securing the 2-1 result.
In the reserves Merimbula started and finished strong with their speed proving too much for the Tigers to win 2-1.
Earlier the Bega Devils had won the 16s and the 14s matches in an all-Bega showdown.
“To our teams that won and lost we are proud of you all. It is an amazing achievement to make it to the Grand Final. It is the result of much hard work, skill and sportsmanship throughout the season,” The Devils committee said.
Red won the 16s 4-1 over Bega White and the under 14 Whites downed Bega Red 4-3.