Toc. A grade’s hat-trick is one of five lo­cal flags

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE - By James Ben­nett

It’s tough enough to win one premier­ship, let alone three . . . un­less your Tocumwal’s A grade side.

The well-oiled group has con­tin­ued its reign as Pi­cola League North-west cham­pi­ons with an im­pres­sive win at Blighty on Satur­day.

It was also the third grand fi­nal loss in a row for the De­niliquin Rovers.

De­spite the Rovers’ quick start early in the first quar­ter, the Bloods man­aged to set­tle and take a two goal lead at half time.

They came out with more in­ten­sity in the sec­ond half and slowly pulled away in the third quar­ter.

The Bloods played like an un­de­feated team, re­fus­ing to buckle under any come­back the Rovers tried to pull.

While it was her first year in the Bloods’ top grade, coach Kate Bird said she did not feel pres­sure go­ing into the grand fi­nal.

‘‘It feels good to win; it’s pretty easy to coach when you have such a great group of girls,’’ she said.

‘‘Deni in the past has jumped, so hav­ing scores tied at quar­ter time was im­por­tant.’’

Wing de­fender Mil­lie Fer­gu­son was named best on ground, which Bird said was ‘‘well and truly de­served’’.

‘‘She read the play well, took risks and in­ter­cepted at the right times.’’

While strong in pre­vi­ous years, Bird said Tocumwal had the ex­tra ad­van­tage of hav­ing ad­di­tional play­ers avail­able for the grand fi­nal this year. Nine lined up as part of the team on Satur­day.

‘‘It took time to change the cul­ture of the team to play­ing with nine rather than seven,’’ she said.

‘‘Now with the ju­nior de­vel­op­ment we are able to get younger play­ers such as Gra­cie Reid and Ge­or­gia Stoate into the team.

‘‘Both did an ex­cel­lent job; Gra­cie had a high im­pact game and Ge­or­gia shot re­ally well.

‘‘We’re def­i­nitely aim­ing for four pre­mier­ships, so if we keep men­tor­ing the ju­niors and con­tinue the whole club con­tri­bu­tion we’ll cer­tainly win next year.’’

The A grade side was not the only Tocumwal team fly­ing the flag on the way home from Blighty on Satur­day, with the under 15s net­ballers and fourths foot­ballers also com­ing away win­ners.

Club pres­i­dent Mal Hart said the A grade win was re­ally spe­cial.

‘‘To win three in a row at the se­nior level of a very com­pet­i­tive league is an ex­cel­lent achieve­ment for our club,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no rea­son the girls can’t go four in a row. We had younger play­ers who earned some game time in the grand fi­nal so the fu­ture is look­ing good.

‘‘The re­sults help pro­mote our club in the area and with the two Tocumwal schools full, we are able to en­cour­age younger play­ers to come to the club to learn under great teach­ing coaches.’’

Hart also praised the fourths for ‘‘thrash­ing’’ the Deni Rovers, 14.5 (89) to 4.3 (27).

‘‘It’s un­prece­dented what they achieved,’’ he said.

‘‘To have one goal scored against them all year and to con­cede less than 20 points (dur­ing the home and away sea­son) is re­mark­able.’’

Jer­ilderie Foot­ball Net­ball Club also re­turned from Blighty with two flags, for the thirds foot­ballers and C grade net­ballers.

Tocumwal steam­rolled their way to vic­tory in the Pi­cola League fourths grand fi­nal, dom­i­nat­ing the Deni Rovers by 62 points at Blighty on Satur­day.

A dev­as­tat­ing six goal first quar­ter or­ches­trated by the Bloods saw the Roos caught be­hind early in the match.

Tocumwal added an­other five ma­jors over the fol­low­ing two quar­ters, while the Rovers man­aged just the one.

With the game all but over the Roos didn’t drop their heads, win­ning the last quar­ter by one point, kick­ing 3.1 to 3.0.

Bloods ruck­man Zan­der Grif­fin was de­clared the best on ground earn­ing him the medal, while Baylee Mor­ton was a fo­cus up for­ward with seven ma­jors.

For the Roos it was Ray­mond Mur­phy who was best with Tom Blake, Kaiden Joss, Haydn Mowat, Maisy Ed­wards and Pat West­cott all play­ing well.

Fi­nal score, Tocumwal 14.5 (89) to Deni Rovers 4.3 (27).

Tocumwal coach Bob Bourke said that the win was the cul­mi­na­tion of four years at the helm

‘‘I’ve had a lot of th­ese boys play­ing fourths for the past three or four years,’’ he said.

‘‘We have 10 play­ers go­ing up to thirds next year so it was good to send them off with a win.

‘‘Re­gard­less of the re­sult, we were most happy about the boys’ de­vel­op­ment as footy play­ers.

‘‘They stuck to the game plan and worked hard for this win..’’

Bourke also agreed that Grif­fin was a de­served win­ner of the best on ground medal.

‘‘He’s very good at play­ing be­hind the kick,’’ he said.

‘‘He re­bounded out of de­fence and has a big kick that proved cru­cial on Satur­day.

‘‘I was a bit ner­vous head­ing into the game but the boys played well.

‘‘It was good to see them get on top early and for them to close out such a good sea­son with a flag.’’

(Back, from left) Leah Pate, Car­rissa Bray­bon, Jacq Davis, Ge­or­gia Stoate, Ka­t­rina Chellew and Leisa De­sailly; (front) Gra­cie Reid, Mil­lie Fer­gu­son and Kate Bird.

Tocumwal’s fourths cel­e­brate their premier­ship win fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the premier­ship cup. Photo cour­tesy He­len Barker.

Best on ground medal win­ner Zan­der Grif­fin with coach Bob Bourke.

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