The Queanbeyan Tigers wrote themselves in to the history books with a shock 24-point victory over the Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra Grand Final.
A Best on Ground performance from player/coach Kade Klemke inspired the Tigers to a 15.5.90 to 10.11.71 over the previously unbeaten Magpies today at Startrack Oval.
Klemke’s stunning display was made even more remarkable by the fact that he has been playing with a broken hand for the past three weeks.
The Tigers went through an unprecedented player turnover during the pre-season, with Klemke forced to blood a number of youngsters.
“I always knew, the young side, the talent we had coming up through the juniors, I knew we could bring a good side together,” said Klemke.
“I knew we’d get better every week, and we pulled it off.”
It seemed as though the Tigers were destined to be also-rans in 2015, as they struggled to compete with the competition heavyweights for four quarters.
“Honestly, if you’d asked me mid-year how we were going to win a premiership, I would have been laughing at you,” said the Alex Jesaulenko Medallist.
“We set a goal. We thought, ‘look, we’re not going to finish higher than first and second’.
“So in the last five weeks we said we’re just going to push it as hard as we can, and train as hard as we can, and do extras.
“We even did extra running after a game against Eastlake, and that’s what we wanted to do it for, [that] was this game.
“I tell you what, the boys, the amount of work they put in, we deserved this. I believe we did.”
Five goals to Paul Williams steered the Tigers to their sixteenth flag, and their second consecutive AFL Canberra premiership following last year’s Division One triumph.
Club legend Mark Armstrong bagged four majors in his final match before hanging up the boots, bowing out with a premiership medal in tow.
The Tigers booted three goals in the opening stages, with Armstrong wasting no time in getting his name on the scoresheet.
Belconnen’s Luke Wharton provided the Magpies with plenty of dash of the halfback-line, as the favourites began to claw their way back in to the contest.
Queanbeyan fought back with a ferocious display of tackling in the dying stages of the first term to take a two-goal lead in to the break.
Belconnen coach Jeremy Rowe pleaded with his side to have trust in what got the side to this stage of the season following a shaky opening term.
The Magpies started to swing in to gear as they pressured the Tigers backline, working their way back in to the contest as they tied the score line.
Tempers began to flare as the two player/coaches went toe-to-toe, with Klemke rushing to his teammate’s aid as Rowe laid on a heavy bump.
The Tigers held their lead going in to halftime, after a stunning bicycle kick goal to Alex Page stretched the margin to 18 points, much to the delight of the Tigers faithful.
Queanbeyan skipper Andrew Swan repelled wave after wave of attack as the Magpies struggled to put the finishing touches on handy work from the midfield.
Down by 22 points heading in to the final quarter, Belconnen star James Bennett challenged his side to rise to the occasion like they had done all year.
The Magpies’ running game saw them push the ball deep in to their forward 50 with ease, but again it was Klemke that thwarted their chances.
The competition’s leading goal-scorer Chris York injected himself in to the game in the final term, slotting goals and creating chances that saw the margin cut to eight points.
Mulrooney Medallist Isaac Taylor had a golden opportunity to bring the deficit to just two, before spraying his kick out on the full.
The Tigers capitalised on the missed opportunity with a goal to Armstrong, before a major to Williams sealed the victory.
A goal in the dying seconds to Kane Godde was met with a “Premiers” chant from the vocal Queanbeyan fans as the Tigers secured the silverware.
First Grade: Queanbeyan Tigers 15.5.90 defeated Belconnen Magpies 10.11.71
Second Grade: Tuggeranong Hawks 12.15.87 defeated Belconnen Magpies 6.3.39
Rising Stars: Marist College 11.4.70 defeated Ainslie Tricolours 6.7.43
ARTICLE WRITTEN FOR YABBA
(PHOTO: AFL Canberra)