Tigers in South Coast AFL final thriller

Northern Tigers's Dale Perrett gets a handball away. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Northern Tigers's Dale Perrett gets a handball away. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI


South Coast AFL has rarely witnessed the jaw-dropping, tension-packed drama to match the Northern Tigers's extra-time victory over Kiama Power in Saturday's Preliminary Final at North Dalton Park.

The Tigers advance to their first top-grade grand final since 2008 and denied the Power a fourth straight appearance with a 10.7 (67) to 9.7 (61) victory, after being tied 60-60 at full-time.

The Tigers booted the only goal of the two five-minute extra-time phases, yet the Power's Ricky Neels almost won it - with his after-the-siren shot in normal time sliding wide - leaving the final tied.

An extraordinary day in South Coast AFL has arguably only been matched by Kiama's after-the-siren victory over Wollongong to win the 2011 flag, also at North Dalton Park.

A jubilant Northern Districts must recover from bruising wins over Bomaderry and Kiama and reload for Saturday's grand final against premiers Wollongong.

"We were absolutely spent there at the end, so it was a very courageous effort," Tigers coach Leigh Forsyth said.

"Their pace troubled us and we had to give it everything to get over the line but for the supporters, for the club it's great to make it and break the stranglehold of Kiama and Wollongong grand finals."

The Tigers battled a host of injuries and other factors with one player coming back weeks early from a cracked collarbone and another almost pulling out in the warm-up with asthma and flu symptoms.

Other players took hamstring tightness into the game and after torrid back-to-back victories, the Tigers will have a light week before trying to win their first premiership since 1984.

Meanwhile, Kiama coach James Walton said it was one of the most dramatic games he'd seen in 16 years in South Coast AFL.

"It was an amazing advertisement for our competition. Someone had to win, someone had to stumble and we just came up short," Walton said.

Walton said midfielder Jack Mahony won his vote for best afield, while Josh Mason was outstanding at fullback.

His only criticism was not being able to spend a few minutes with his players after the final siren to regroup for extra time.

"After giving everything for four quarters I think the players on both teams deserved just two or three minutes' break to settle and discuss a thing or two," Walton said.

"That didn't happen. How we look at extra time is something we can discuss in the future."

Officials couldn't remember the last time a final had reached extra time, with scores also tied 25-25 at half-time.

Kiama booted four straight to lead by 11 points at quarter-time but were held to just a single behind in the second term as Norths booted two straight to be level at the long break.

Both sides booted three goals in the third term but Norths's three behinds gave them a three-point lead at the final change. In a desperate final term both teams had a chance at glory yet the grand final spot was to be decided in extra time.

In reserve grade, Wollongong beat Figtree by 42 points to set up a clash with minor premiers Ulladulla in the grand final.

Wollongong have made the grand final in five of their six seasons in reserve grade, while Ulladulla have been beaten just once in 2014.





First Grade: Wollongong v Northern Districts (2.30pm)

Reserve Grade: Ulladulla v Wollongong (Noon) 


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