ALMOST 25 minutes into the first quarter at the J.C. Lowe Oval on Saturday and nothing had altered in the recent formlines and mindsets of Albury and Yarrawonga.
The Tigers were on another destructive rampage and the Pigeons were wondering where their first goal was going to spring from.
Albury had bolted 42 points clear when veteran forward Andrew Carey cashed in on a calamitous Pigeons’ turnover on the half-forward flank to convert from close range.
Yarrawonga stemmed the avalanche momentarily with back-to-back goals, but the Tigers responded to hold a matchwinning 41-point lead at quarter time.
Albury was a class above the team it has met in the past five grand finals.
The Tigers were irresistible at every contest, repeatedly forced their opponents into errors and moved the ball with clinical precision.
Youngsters Matt Munro and Toby Blissett were among the goals, as were the usual suspects including the most prolific goalkicking midfielder in the competition, Brayden O’Hara, who took his season tally to 33 with two in the first term.
The second quarter produced no respite for the Pigeons, who were a demoralised lot when they trudged from the field at half-time trailing by 63 points.
Carey finished the first half with back-to-back goals to have five on the board, while another regular Pigeon tormenter, Josh Maher, created mayhem again.
The stunned crowd thought the Pigeons were the next team to be put to the sword by the Tigers.
Yarrawonga only had pride to play for in the second half and, to its credit, it didn’t roll over.
Brad O’Connor got busy and booted back-to-back goals, which made Albury wait until the 12-minute mark to bring up its first goal of the half.
The Pigeons were suddenly having small wins across the ground.
Tyler Bonat quelled O’Hara and won his own share of touches, Brandon Symes lifted in the ruck and was a presence around the ground and experienced Craig Ednie and Drew Barnes also made a stand.
The Pigeons became the first team since round five to win a quarter against the Tigers.
Brendan Fevola played minimal part in the resurgence and had a dirty day in front of goal with 1.6 opposed to Michael Thompson, but set up teammates in better positions to score on at least three occasions.
Albury co-coach Chris Hyde was clearly riled by the Tigers’ third term and ripped into his players at the break.
The Tigers outscored the Pigeons in the last term to run out convincing 62-point winners.
Carey added one more in the last term to almost double his season tally with six goals from just as few kicks.
Setanta O’hAilpin finished with 5.2 opposed to Marcus McMillan and has a clear preference to shoot for goal around his body rather than take set shots.
Albury had an ample share of contributors, including Dean Polo, Daniel Maher, Luke Daly and Lonnie Hampton.
Maher said the Tigers still had a healthy respect for the Pigeons, despite their recent poor form.
“We certainly knew it wasn’t going to be on our terms,” he said.
“Our first quarter was really good and set up the game. We just wanted our guys to hit the contest early and make a statement.
“Today was a day when our 21st player had to do a role.
“We just got a bit ahead of ourselves in the third quarter and went away from our structures.
“We deserved the little crack we got.”