Pambula Panthers take swipe at Lions in grand final

Momentum: Panther Jake Taylor gets a kick forward after evading a Tathra tackle attempt during Saturday's win in the preliminary final.
Momentum: Panther Jake Taylor gets a kick forward after evading a Tathra tackle attempt during Saturday's win in the preliminary final.

The Pambula Panthers have set up a rematch with the Narooma Lions in the SCAFL grand final. 

The Panthers bounced back from their solitary goal loss to the Lions with a 65-point trouncing of the Tathra Sea Eagles 16-17-113 to 7-6-48.

Hitting his straps at the right time of the year for the Pambula club is the SCAFL rookie of the year Shannon Butterfield. 

At just 16, Butterfield is about to contest his eighth career grand final for the Panthers, boasting an impressive junior history at the club. 

Club officials said Butterfield wasn’t the biggest player on the field, but had a heart like an elephant and that he would take on the competition’s biggest and strongest with no fear. 

He’s also adding to the blistering pace, that is part of the Panthers’ strength on the field, especially in the hunt to take down the Lions. 

They kept a frantic pace on Saturday throughout the four quarters, running the Eagles ragged in the dying stages to outscore the visitors five goals to two in the third quarter and four to one in the final stanza to claim the comfortable win. 

The Sea Eagles had matched pace with the Panthers in early exchanges, and only trailed by three goals at the main break. 

Play fluctuated end to end in a matter of seconds with both sides firing out of the blocks in the opening passages. 

The Panthers were stronger in the air, but the Sea Eagles had some great passages of play through the hands to evade their Pambula opponents. 

A lot of play focused around the flanks where Shane Gartside and Dennis Paratene had to do plenty of work for the Sea Eagles. 

Luke Taylor, Jarrod Palmer and Nick Forester were also kept extremely busy as they did their best to waylay the Pambula scoring assault. 

However, it was Pambula’s closely guarded goal square that proved a challenge for the Sea Eagles. 

Charlie Shepherd was influential in keeping Louis Coulton and Dean Gartside clear of their normal impact at the front. 

Officials from the Panthers also credited Hamish Wenczel with a great defensive effort that stemmed the flow of points from the Sea Eagles. 

Johnno Di-Donato was impeccable in front for the Panthers, kicking a three-goal haul, while four individual players bagged a double to ensure the winning margin. 

Chris Dwyer was the best for the visitors with two goals, but the stoic defence from the Panthers kept the Sea Eagles largely quiet with the boot to contain their scoring potential. 

The Panthers will now go into four grades in Saturday’s grand final, including the development grade, 13s and 16s.  

The SCAFL grand final will be held at the Pambula Sporting Complex on Saturday from 8am.