IT WAS a day that should have brought the sides closer together.
Instead, all it did was highlight the gulf between Albury and the rest of the Ovens and Murray.
The Tigers restricted the Panthers to a solitary behind for the second and third quarters as they ran away with a 9.17 (71) to 4.7 (31) victory on a rain-soaked Lavington Oval.
With the ball like a cake of soap, it wasn’t until the 22-minute mark of the opening term that Setanta O’hAilpin kicked the first goal of the game after cleverly taking possession out of the ruck.
Brant Dickson found a quick reply two minutes later from a free kick to have Lavington within three points at the opening change.
But that was as close as the Panthers would be for the rest of the game.
With Daniel Cross’ ability to control the ball in tight in slippery conditions and Luke Packer and Dean Polo mopping up everything across half-back, the Tigers peppered the goals in the second term.
Josh Mellington kicked the solitary goal of the term but the writing was on the wall.
The floodgates, just as they have at Hume Dam recently, were always going to burst open – it was just a matter of when. It came in the “premiership quarter”.
O’hAilpin kicked his second goal when, as he did in the first quarter, he gathered the ball out of the ruck to put the Tigers 19 points clear at the seven-minute mark.
Joel Mackie was helped from the ground moments later after a bone-crunching collision with Tiger co-captain Luke Daly.
Mackie’s absence could have been a chance for the Panthers to work their way into the match but instead they lost their cool with Truman Carroll sent from the field for striking Michael Duncan.
Elliott Powell rubbed further salt into the Panthers’ wound when he put the Tigers 27 points clear with a goal from close range before Mellington and Brayden O’Hara extended the advantage to 40 at the final change.
The Panthers broke even with three goals apiece in the last quarter but the only comfort they could take from that was moving past Barnawartha’s 1.5 (11) as the lowest grand final score, set in 1911.
Albury co-coach Daniel Maher was proud of how the Tigers stood up in adverse conditions.
“If you put them on a road, they’ll do what they have to do, if you put them on a bog-hill, they’ll do what they have to do,” he said.
“That’s what this group has been built on, not only this year but in previous years as well.
“We knew our structures were going to stand up as long as we stuck at it.”