GRand final review
Yarrawonga has taken out the 2023 SS&A OMFNL premiership after holding off a tenacious Albury Tigers by four points at the Lavington Sportsground.
In front of 10,156 spectators, the Pigeons won its sixth OM premiership in one of the all-time great grand finals that had a gripping finish.
Tigers former AFL star Jeff Garlett missed a shot on goal with under a minute to play that would have put the Tigers in front by two points.
The kick was marked by Yarrawonga captain Leigh Masters in front of a packed goal square as supporters of both sides had hearts in their mouths.
Ironically the previous year from a similar spot on the ground and scenario Pigeons Jess Koopman had the same opportunity to put his team in front against Wangaratta.
Yarrawonga star Michael Gibbons who had thirty-five possessions was named the Did Simpson Medallist for best player on the ground.
Gibbons along with fellow midfield star Harry Wheeler missed last year’s grand final with injury and took their chance to guide the Pigeons home.
The margin between the teams was never more than a goal at each of the quarter breaks with the halftime score being 44-44.
The highest margin in the game was midway through the second term when Yarrawonga led by 17 points before Albury hit back to level things up at halftime.
Albury after an early goal in the final term looked the winner halfway through the term when they had control and led by eight points.
However, a long-range running goal from the lethal left foot of Logan Morey and a clever snap from an Albury defensive mistake all of a sudden had the Pigeons back in front.
Three minutes later a clever pass from Pigeons captain Leigh Williams found Ryan Bruce all alone in the goal square to extend the lead to 11 points.
Two minutes after that Tigers young tall Connor O’Sullivan took a mark and kicked a goal from a tight angle to reduce the gap to 5 points.
The Tigers had a chance to hit the front when midfield star Brydon Hodgson kicked a behind from a 40-metre shot on the run as the crowd could hardly watch.
The lead-up to Garlett’s final shot was pure grit from the Tigers with Rhys King’s vision and awareness to find Garlett outstanding.
Captain Leigh Masters and former coach Mark Whiley were outstanding for Yarrawonga, along with defenders Nick Irvine and Ned Pendergast.
For the Tigers Lucas Conlan, Jay Hillary and Michael Duncan defended well, while Hodgson, Brayden O’Hara and Isaac Muller were terrific.
The last time Yarrawonga won a senior premiership guess what? Lavington won a senior netball premiership and this double act was achieved again.
The Panthers completed a superb second half of the season when they outlasted Wodonga Raiders 56-46, after they led by just three goals going into the final term.
The brilliance of goal shooter Christine Oguche shone through as she finished with 51 goals and her partner in crime Olivia Sanson five.
Toni Wilson Medal winner Maddi Lloyd was superb in mid-court, while key defender Tayla Furborough completed a wonderful season with another stellar performance.
The Panthers led by five at quarter time and extended it to six at the main break before the Raiders fought back to be right in contention going into the last quarter.
Mackensey House, Molly Goldsworthy, and Emily Stewart were great contributors for the Raiders with Mia Lavis and Taylor Donelan both shooting 16 goals each.
Lavis and her under seventeen teammate Elisa Mooney both found consolation in winning the under 17 grand final over Wodonga.
Raiders also won the B Grade over Yarrawonga, while the Pigeons beat Myrtleford in the C Grade. Wodonga defeated the Raiders in extra time in the Under 15 thriller.
In the football minor grades, Albury proved too strong for Lavington, while in the thirds Lavington beat Rovers by two points in a brilliant standard of football.