JOHN Hill Medal winner Mitch Davis has described his decision to join Albury Thunder two years ago as the best move of his life.
The former Toyota Cup player switched to Group 9 last year to play with his Red Bend teammates and has been rewarded with consecutive flags.
Davis was sensational in yesterday’s win and the fact that he played alongside long-time friends Lou Goodwin, Andrew Cowhan, Nick Wilson and Jake Grace made it even more special.
“It’s the best,” Davis said.
“We haven’t played together since we were 16 at Forbes with Red Bend.
“To get another grand win with my mates and, everyone actually, is unbelievable
“It’s been amazing at this club.”
The NSW Country second tier representative player crashed and bashed his way through 80 minutes of action and admitted he was out on his feet late in the match.
Coach Josh Cale carried a serious calf injury into the match but battled on and lent support to Cowhan coming off the bench.
“I’m pretty tired,” Davis said.
“It was a tough game as Gundagai never gave up.
“They made a great start and we had to claw our way back into it.
“We were killing ourselves with penalties and dropped balls and too many incomplete sets early and it took a big effort to turn it around.”
Coincidentally, yesterday’s 10-point win was the same margin as last year when Albury took out its maiden Group 9 premiership with a 36-26 win over Southcity.
And, according to Goodwin, it was every bit as sweet.
“It definitely feels as good as last year,” Goodwin said.
“Southcity gave it to us last year and Gundagai did the same today — you felt if you cracked once they would be through.
“There were plenty of times today when I was buggered but you look around and the boys are still going strong and you can’t let the side down.
“They put in 100 per cent.”
Goodwin said Cale, who will lead Albury in a non-playing capacity next season, had left a lasting imprint on the sides which lost only one match last season and two this year.
“Everything he does is professional,” Goodwin said.
“If we have the week off he punishes us at training and everything is done for a reason.”
Gundagai captain-coach James Smart will step down after three years at the helm and admitted it was a disappointing note to finish on.
“We gave it everything we had, but Albury deserved to win,” Smart said.
“Full credit to them.
“They are a very good side.”
Gundagai could have a new-look side next season with veterans Peter Magnone and Matt Rose to retire after stellar careers.
It was the Tigers’ ninth grand final loss since they last saluted in 1983.