SOUTH COAST AFL
THE never-say-die Wollongong Bulldogs delivered a stunning final-quarter fightback to beat Kiama Power by eight points and complete a trilogy of epic grand finals between the competition powerhouses.
North Dalton Park erupted on the final siren after the Bulldogs rallied from 25 points down late in the third term to kick five of the last six goals in a 11.10 (76) to 10.8 (68) victory.
Three consecutive grand finals between the Power and Bulldogs have been decided by a combined 15 points - Kiama won with an after-the-siren goal in 2011, while Wollongong have now claimed back-to-back flags.
Wollongong have made the premiership decider every year since they joined the first grade competition in 2010.
Coach Lee Murray was chaired by jubilant Bulldogs fans and players in the middle of the ground just seconds after the siren.
"I'm incredibly proud of how brave we were," an emotional Murray said.
"We didn't know we were beat. Maybe we were too stupid to think about it.
"To come back the way we did, to play to the final siren is pretty amazing."
The Dogs had heroes aplenty; led by small forward Nick Swiriduik, who turned the momentum of the final quarter with two goals, as did best on ground winner Tom Charles, who booted two of his three goals in the fourth term.
Andrew Barned kicked the Dogs' only two goals in the third term; his late goal reduced the margin to 19 points at the final change.
Alex Killalea was outstanding for the Dogs, while Murray hailed the performance of Cam Bailey in the ruck.
Wollongong skipper Jacob Hart said his team never lost their belief, even when the game appeared to slip away in the third term.
"We got together and said 'we can still do this'," Hart said.
"We never give up and showed the guts and spirit which is what the club is about."
While Bulldogs fans celebrated, just a couple of handballs away Power players and supporters were forlorn.
After they had won the first three quarters and were in control, they'd blown a three quarter-time lead in the grand final for a second straight year.
"We ran out of legs," Power coach Rod Richards said.
"The big ground was supposed to suit but they ran over us."
Rob Beaumont, Scott Phillips, Glen Haworth and Sam Dowling were among Kiama's best.
While the Power will rue a lost opportunity, they've made the grand final four of the past five years - with wins in 2009 and 2011 - and will return a powerhouse in 2014.
In reserve grade, Albatross Demons produced an inspired second half comeback to beat minor premiers Port Kembla Blacks 9.4 (58) to 6.15 (51).
The Blacks had beaten the Demons by 81 points in the qualifying final and led by 21 points at half-time.
But the Blacks managed just one second half goal as Albatross booted five unanswered goals in the third term to hit the front then hold on for an upset win.