THE result was what many expected and the margin not really surprising but how Yarrawonga captured its fifth premiership was anything but predictable.
Trends, records and statistics were all smashed and sent tumbling as the Pigeons romped to a 36-point victory.
History says teams that trail at quarter-time on grand final day don’t win the premiership.
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The leader at the first break in eight of the past 10 games between Albury and the Pigeons has gone on to win the game.
When Brendan Fevola doesn’t kick a bag of goals against a fellow heavyweight, Yarrawonga often finds a way to lose.
Albury rarely, if ever, loses a game when it kicks six of the game’s first nine goals.
It did yesterday.
This was a game of unusual twists and turns.
You knew Drew Barnes was in for a big day the moment he opened the scoring with a bomb from outside 50.
The Did Simpson medallist didn’t let anyone down.
Never has a 15-possession game been so telling.
His three goals were all vital.
He kicked the first of the match, his second was squished between seven Albury goals and his third gave the trailing Pigeons the ideal start just 30 seconds into the second half.
The Tigers took control of the contest early yesterday, booting four of the first quarter’s final five goals to take a buffer into the first change.
John Mitchell’s effort after the quarter-time siren looked a savage early blow, with momentum always crucial when the league heavyweights go head-to-head.
Andy Carey kicked his third goal, just minutes into the second term, and Albury’s lead hit a game-high 16 points a few moments later.
The Tigers seldom lose games from there.
Brendan Fevola finally slotted his first, five minutes into the second quarter, but it was met with a quick reply from Kieran Ellis.
With numbers filling Fevola’s space — the former AFL star facing both Michael Thompson and Luke Packer as multiple opponents all game — the Pigeons struggled to find a reliable avenue to goal.
That’s where Barnes’ early cameo proved pivotal to the outcome.
Not only were the Tigers starving Fevola of chances, they were cutting the Pigeons to shreds on the rebound.
It was a big coaching victory for Chris Hyde and Daniel Maher, who were both leading from the front on the ground.
Barnes and Chris Kennedy had to find an answer.
Fevola was pushed up the ground in the second half, giving him more room to work with.
He kicked two goals in eight minutes.
Those goals were split by an effort from Luke Daly, with the Albury co-captain kicking a goal six minutes into the third quarter.
In good news for the Tigers, Daly’s now kicked at least one goal in 40 of his past 41 matches.
But in bad news for the Tigers, it was their final goal of the game.
Albury was starting to run out of steam.
The first blow, Fevola’s third goal, brought back memories of Craig Ednie’s masterful effort in front of the grandstand in the 2010 decider.
Ednie reduced the margin to five points that day — Fevola’s put the Pigeons in front by the same margin.
It was starting to look their day.
The next 10 minutes were a scramble, before Brad O’Connor took a strong mark and kicked truly 25 metres from goal.
The Pigeons had breathing space.
Kayne Pettifer pinched his second moments before the three-quarter-time siren, and Yarrawonga had slotted five goals to one in the third term.
It’s called the premiership quarter for a reason.
Leading by 15 at the final change, and with the Tigers tiring, the Pigeons had one hand on the cup.
Tyler Bonat only tightened that grip, six minutes into the final term, when his stellar 30-possession game was rewarded with a goal.
Twelve minutes later and Yarrawonga’s grabbed the cup’s other handle.
Fevola, out on his feet, marked on the lead 45 metres from goal.
The stage was set.
And like every other time this finals series, Fevola stole the show.
The Pigeons were 29 points in the clear, with less than 10 minutes remaining.
They were home.
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