WANGARATTA has claimed its most famous premiership victory since completing four Ovens and Murray flags in a row 65 years ago by bringing down the modern day powerhouse Albury by 21 points in the grand final on Saturday.
The Tigers stumbled in their latest attempt to equal the Magpies’ record premiership run from 1949-52 despite drawing within eight points in the final quarter.
The win was a triumph of resilience from the Magpies who played every week of the finals series including clawing back from 15 points down in the final quarter of the preliminary final against the only other team to beat Albury in a grand final since 2009, Yarrawonga, and beating the Tigers on a six-day break.
Wangaratta’s selection punts paid off with star forward Mick Newton returning from a hamstring injury to boot eight goals to claim the Did Simpson Medal for best on ground.
Newton kicked straight when it counted in the first quarter and then produced some magic when he booted a goal from the outside of his boot from an impossible angle in the third term.
But the Tigers gambles on injured players back-fired with Daniel Cross (calf) well below his best, Joel Mackie (calf) unable to exert his normal influence on the match and young gun Michael Duncan (knee) clearly restricted.
Also, veteran defender and proven big match performer Luke Packer (hamstring) withdrew from the selected team.
On another sour note for the Tigers, star forward Josh Mellington finished the season on 99 goals with direct opponent Michael Bordignon holding him to three goals.
The Magpies took the upperhand in the first term when they slammed on 7.0 to 2.2.
Wangaratta coach Dean Stone added a senior premiership to his resume after previously coaching the club’s under-18s team to a flag.
“We had a healthy list today and the players believed they were good enough,” he said.
“There is a really good group of players here and I am really happy for them. Everything clicked today and they went to battle for eachother.”
Brothers Judd and Daine Porter were the only surviving members of the Magpies last flag in 2008 and have finished their fine careers as three-time premiership players.
“I reckon we’ve had a good list for a few years and under-achieved,” Judd Porter said.
“To put it all together is really good.”
Other premiership heroes included mid-field hard nut Matt Kelly, young defender Dylan Van Berlo, Matt Grossman and mid-season addition Tom Whittlesea, whose father Peter is a former club president.
Wodonga Raiders won the reserves grand final by 20 points against Yarrawonga and Albury premiership player from the mid-1990s Dale Carroll coached the Tigers to the under-18s flag with a 39-point win against Wangaratta.
Yarrawonga’s remarkable run of success in A grade netball continued with a one-goal win over Lavington.
North Albury beat the Panthers 40-33 in B grade, but the Panthers turned the tables on the Hoppers in C grade.
The Pigeons won the 16 and under flag with a 52-36 win over Wangaratta.