Albury defender Brady Morton kicked just his fourth goal of the season with 57 seconds left to pilot the Tigers to a 10th successive grand final after a pulsating two-point win over Wodonga Raiders on Saturday.
Morton was moved forward in the second half and awarded a free kick for kicking in danger.
He was 40m out on a tight angle, near the scoreboard side of North Albury’s Bunton Park.
He’d been goalless in nine games, but his sweet strike handed the Tigers an 11.16 (82) to 12.8 (80) win.
“I was packing it to be honest, I was pretty nervous, I haven’t kicked a goal since I played these boys last time,” he said.
Morton was dropped on Thursday night for the first time in his two-year stint after joining from Wagga Tigers, but received a reprieve when Dean Polo failed to recover from a calf complaint.
“That’s what finals footy is about, taking your moment,” co-coach Shaun Daly said.
“He hasn’t played forward for a long time, but he went back cool, calm and collected and he took his moment and won the game for us.”
The O and M must be salivating after three epic finals.
The lead changed six times after Albury blew Raiders apart with three goals in the first six minutes.
Former Raider Dean Heta opened the scoring with a strong mark in a sea of players, before Jaxon Neagle crashed over Will McIntosh, who converted.
And when Rhys King snapped truly the match had that familiar feel to it after a decade of Albury dominance.
However, this Raiders’ outfit has improved enormously in the past 12 months and Jydon Neagle kicked an inspirational captain’s goal from 50m.
But the underdogs still went to the break 17 points down.
However, Albury’s Achilles heel at times this year – inaccuracy – resurfaced with six behinds and when Jordan Rouse goaled from a tight angle late, Raiders had the half-time lead.
Jackson Kelly produced a blinding third quarter to retain a one-point break and when Brodie Filo goaled after 90 seconds in the final term, Raiders had a seven-point break.
But when Kieran Ellis bombed away, the Tigers regained the lead and extended it to two goals before Tom McCaffrey, Connor Newnham and Jydon Neagle stole it back.
But Morton’s finish will live long in the memory of the strong crowd of 2302.
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