Sport

More big stage brilliance

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September 25, 2017

Swarming: Nagambie forward Pat Rattray is surrounded by Violet Town players.

Got enough time: Nagambie's Brett Connors guides teammate Kyle Winter-Irving through traffic.

Nagambie knows how to get it done on the biggest stage.

The Lakers romped to back-to-back Kyabram District Football League premierships on Saturday with a resounding 53-point win against Violet Town.

It was the club’s third premiership in four years, only missing out in 2015 when Merrigum broke a 25-year flag drought by defeating Stanhope in the decider.

It is the first team in the league to win consecutive premierships since Stanhope in 2007 and 2008.

The result, which secured Nagambie’s 12th senior flag, rubber stamps the club as the most dominant in the league this decade after also saluting in 2010.

Experience in grand finals was always going to be key and Nagambie has it in spades.

For Violet Town, there were just four players who featured in the club’s last premiership in 2012 out there.

The Lakers knew when to lift and did just that with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter.

The decider at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve started off in a stunning style, with the best players turning it on.

Towners stars Sam Poole and Pat Horsbugh had leather poisoning the first term, while Nagambie midfielders Michael Roberts and Mick Shiels were doing the same.

Chris McKay made a nervous start for Violet Town, spraying a set shot before Ash Hobbs put the Towners on the board with a smart finish.

Danny Haysom was looking dangerous for Nagambie, converting an outstanding goal, while Hobbs and McKay caused problems up the other end.

Violet Town, which finished on top of the ladder during the home-and-away season, got away to a 17-point lead when McKay kicked his first.

But Roberts’ big game experience came to the fore as he kicked the final two goals of the quarter to level the scores at quarter-time.

The intensity was just as high in the second quarter, until the Lakers went up a gear and Violet Town just could not stay with them.

Nagambie’s momentum came like an avalanche, with Ben Hutton, Mat Waterson and Mark Nolan slamming through goals before half-time to take a 15-point lead into the main break.

With the wind picking up on a hot day as the temperature reached 30°C, the signs for a Nagambie win were ominous for Violet Town supporters.

The Lakers were 46 points behind in 2014 and five goals last year and still managed to claim those flags, so to be in front at half-time was almost a fatal blow for Violet Town.

Waterson fired again early in the third quarter, while Kyle Winter-Irving was asserting his dominance at centre half-forward.

Winter-Irving might not have finished with a bag of goals, but his strong marking and ability to spot a pass inside 50 was brilliant.

The classy Winter-Irving was awarded with the AFL Victoria medal for best-on-ground as voted by the umpires.

Violet Town defender Zac Economou did an outstanding job of containing Lakers veteran Pat Rattray up forward, but it mattered little.

Nagambie simply created too much space for its midfielders and half-forwards to run into and Violet Town’s defenders could not keep up.

The Towners were still within reach at three-quarter-time, but the belief and momentum was in the Nagambie camp.

Cult hero Harley Taylor-Lloyd kicked the sealer early in the last quarter with a terrific snap.

The game completely opened up from there, as Nagambie pushed the margin out to as much as 67 points before Violet Town’s Leigh Lugg reduced the damage with the final two goals of the match.

After the Towners smashed Nagambie twice during the home-and-away season, the Lakers made up for it in the finals.

Nagambie won by 16 points in the second semi-final and then proved way too strong in the grand final.

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