Diggers take down Panthers in derby

Feathery touch: A Merimbula Digger takes a mark on his fingertips during the club's narrow win over Pambula on Saturday for a grand final place.
Feathery touch: A Merimbula Digger takes a mark on his fingertips during the club's narrow win over Pambula on Saturday for a grand final place.

The Merimbula Diggers held off a five-goal final quarter from the Pambula Panthers to claim a grand final berth on Saturday. 

The Diggers had shot to a stunning lead by half-time, but had to hold back a resurgent Pambula display in the last period to win 12-10-82 to 10-7-67.

Jack Burch had a best on ground display for the Merimbula outfit as the Diggers had to battle for supremacy in the air on Saturday. 

Burch kicked two goals, while Dylan Jordan also showed his potential at range with a further two goals and Jedd Martyn had some good passages up front to kick three majors. 

It was a stark contrast to the Panthers who found most of their majors through flanker Sean Smith, who was both strong in ball contests and consistent with the boot on the day. 

The Merimbula roster dominated early passages of play with some great control in the air and long-range offloads out of the middle. 

The club fired to a 25-point lead in the opening quarter, while only allowing the Panthers a couple of snap-kick options on goals as they picked up two behinds. 

The trend continued in the second, but Merimbula’s accuracy waivered as four kicks from five drifted from the main posts to score singles, but again Pambula were kept largely quiet with just one behind. 

The Diggers were seemingly in command at the half-time break leading 37-9. 

A stern half-time talk saw the Panthers lift tremendously with a four-goal third quarter to trail by just 20 points, then five majors in the last period got the club painfully close, but the Diggers held out to win by 15. 

In other grades, the Panthers ladies got within 7 points of securing a win over the Tathra Eaglettes. 

Pambula kicked two goals to one in the opening quarter to lead 12-6, but Tathra trailed by a single behind at the main break 13-12. 

Tathra’s four goals had come from four individual kickers, while two of Pambula’s three were claimed by Kiarna Woolley-Blain in a good show at the front. 

The Panthers fought back to the front in the third quarter, but a handy pair of goals in the final period gave the Eaglettes the edge. 

In reserves, the Sea Eagles managed a shock 9-6-60 to 6-3-39 result over the Merimbula outfit. 

The Diggers had been leading the competition and were already piped by the Panthers in the major semi-final. 

The Sapphire Coast AFL grand final will be held at Narooma’s Bill Smyth Memorial Oval on Saturday. 

Juniors run from 8am for the under 12s with senior play going ahead from 11.10am, ladies at 1.10pm and seniors at 2.30pm.