Tigers grab nail-biter against Hawks

Brinkworth-Spalding-Redhill collected the 2017 North Eastern Football League premiership after a heart-stopping finish at Riverton Oval on Saturday.

 While the match wasn't a classic encounter from the skills perspective, it certainly had all the intrigue and intensity you would hope for in the biggest match of the season.

Despite a five-goal last quarter by Riverton Saddleworth Marrabel United, the Tigers would hold on by the slimmest of margins and actually win the title kicking less goals than their opponents.

 The final score had the Tigers triumphant, winning 7.11 (53) to the Hawks 8.4 (52).

“We always knew they were going to come at us and we left the door open.”

It was tough in the clinchers all day and it was hard to get any free flowing football to be played due to the tackling and commitment to the contest.

BSR had the better of the first quarter and should have put more goals on the board than the single major kicked by Phil Raymond.

They led at quarter time by eight points, but they should have been further in front.

Both teams kicked three goals in the second term as the margin was the same at half time.

Kicking towards the Burra end of ground in the third quarter, the Tigers had all the play but didn't convert as effectively as they would have liked in front of goals.

BSR Tigers kicked 3.7 for the quarter while the Hawks remained scoreless for the term.

The Tigers led by 27 points at the final interval for the season.

The last quarter was a classic, as RSMU team looked for a fourth successive title. RSMU charged back into the contest through veteran Craig Mullins and started to have an impact in attack.

Mullins’ three goals brought the Hawks back into the contest.

A steadying goal by Phil Raymond 18 minutes into the last quarter would prove to be critical.

With the game up for grabs and the season nearing its close, the Hawks had two goal shots to win the game.

Both were hard shots to get through the posts but critically, in the end, they went out of bounds on the full.

Tyson Willmott, a noted quality kick, had a shot from the boundary line which fell to the left-hand side of the point post.

In the final throes of the contest, Damien Hynes had a snap that also missed and failed to score.

The euphoria was plain to see as the siren sounded.

The Brinkworth-Spalding-Redhill Tigers had won their first flag in nearly a generation, with their last title being back in 2000.

The win also stopped RSMU’s run of consecutive titles.

The Tigers (‘88-’90) along with South (’71-’73) and North Clare (’80-’82), along with their opponents on Saturday, are the four teams to have three consecutive NEFL premierships over the last half a century.

Daniel Hayes collected best on ground honours for his performance in defence, slightly ahead of former Woodville West Torrens Eagles footballer Phil Raymond who was simply outstanding, both up forward around the ball.

Co-captain and 34-year-old evergreen veteran Adam MacKenzie was superb in defence for the Tigers.

Andrew Cousins was creative and courageous while teenager Josh Slade was a strong target in attack with a couple of goals in a low scoring affair.

“There was a fair bit of relief; you reckon we might have done our best to try and lose it.”

Last year’s Mail Medalist Sam Heinjus worked hard all day both as a key forward and in ruck.

For RSMU, Justin Schahinger shouldered a heavy load in ruck and was the club’s leading performer.

He was closely followed by Tom Connell and veteran Aaron Kemp in defence.

Along with Mullins’ three goals, Josh Vater snaffled a pair for the Hawks in this match.

BSR coach Liam Whitwell said:

“I felt we had plenty of control of the game in the first three quarters.

“It was pretty disappointing we didn't finish off very well in the third quarter.

“From memory I reckon we kicked seven points and a couple out of bounds on the full and we certainly could have been a lot further in front at the last break.

“We always knew they were going to come at us and we left the door open.

“The Hawks are obviously a quality side and we got a little lucky in the end when the final siren sounded.

“There was a fair bit of relief; you reckon we might have done our best to try and lose it.

“The breeze was going across the ground and it was a little bizarre.

 “Most of the scoring was towards the northern end and the wind did swirl around a bit.

“That goal of Phil in the last quarter was pretty critical and Andrew Cousins had a shot that was stopped by the umpire and which looked like it was going through.

“Daniel (Hayes) was great down in defence and Phil Raymond was outstanding with 30-odd touches and his three goals.

“Down back Mongrel (Adam MacKenzie) was outstanding and he totally deserves this accolade – he is a legend of this club. 

“It was a great fillip for the BSR Football Club winning both A grade and reserves flags.

“Besides myself, Dillon Montgomerie, Will Hennessy and ‘Raymo’ (Raymond), it was the first A grade flag for the majority of the boys.”