WHEN Albury co-coach Chris Hyde kicked a goal on the run, almost 18 minutes into the first quarter, the Tigers had regained the lead against fierce rival Yarrawonga.
This time, they didn’t let it go.
Albury firmed into flag favouritism when it claimed its fourth minor premiership in five years with an emphatic 47-point win over bitter rival Yarrawonga on Saturday.
In a bruising encounter, emotions ran high as the match broke out into several melees that left supporters unimpressed.
Albury set the tone when it kicked the game’s first three goals inside the opening 10 minutes.
Co-captain Luke Daly, who kicked the first of the match, didn’t drop off and was Albury’s most dangerous forward for the rest of the game.
He finished with four goals.
The Pigeons responded with three of their own, thanks to Brad O’Connor, Brendan Fevola and Craig Ednie, and suddenly they had the lead.
But Hyde snatched it back and that was the fourth and final lead change of the game.
Albury strung together eight of the game’s next nine goals.
There was brief hope for the Pigeons, when Albury star Matt Shir limped from the ground in the second quarter, but rather than let up, the Tigers put the foot down.
Lonnie Hampton simply toyed with the visitors, burning off anyone who tried to catch him.
Even Yarrawonga speedster Nick Lawless couldn’t run him down.
Hampton also used the footy to perfection.
He played a hand in several Albury goals and clearly had the most influence on the game.
The Pigeons were exposed for a lack of pace.
And co-coach Chris Kennedy wasn’t hiding from that fact.
“Pace did catch us,” Kennedy confessed.
“It’s an area Albury has got quicker in.
“But our tackle count was really low and if it’s low against a quick side it’s bound to happen.
“They outplayed and outpressured us.”
Despite the triumph, Hyde was quick to reaffirm the Tigers had achieved nothing yet.
Albury’s 21 were pulled into the centre of Albury Sportsground straight after the game to be reminded of that fact.
“We’ve only played 18 rounds,” Hyde said.
“We haven’t won a
final, Yarra hasn’t won a final, Lavi hasn’t won a final and the other two haven’t either.
“It was just about being humble.
“We were really pleased with the boys’ effort and how they performed but it’s just important we now utilise the week off.”
Kennedy is confident the Pigeons can defy recent history and win the premiership without finishing in top spot.
It hasn’t happened since 2005.
“We know we’ve got a good group,” he said.
“There’s generally a reason when you don’t have a good game and the figures don’t lie. They showed us up in a few areas.
“But we can’t even think or talk about Albury now, it’s all about Lavington.
“We’ve got to turn it around as quick as we can.
“We know we’re going to have to play a hell of a lot better than we did against Lavington last time to get another crack at Albury.”