Diggers advance to grand final

After a tight hustle through the middle, the Merimbula Diggers came up with the goods late in play on Saturday to eliminate Tathra and secure a grand final run this weekend.
After a tight hustle through the middle, the Merimbula Diggers came up with the goods late in play on Saturday to eliminate Tathra and secure a grand final run this weekend.

The Merimbula Diggers have come from an eight-point deficit to win a grand final place over the Tathra Sea Eagles on Saturday.

The Merimbula senior outfit will now play host to the Narooma Lions with the Sapphire Coast AFL's ultimate showdown for 2020 to run at Berrambool Oval this Saturday.

The Diggers played host to Tathra under lights for semi-finals on Saturday and despite trailing at three-quarter time, the club hammered home a six-goal final quarter to advance 10-8-68 to 6-8-44.

Play was energetic and quick from the off with a lot of focus around the middle.

However, the Diggers pushed some of their long-range strike options forward with Dylan Jordan finding himself a few options out of the forward pocket.

The Sea Eagles responded by letting their forwards float back toward the middle and pick up some close carries for scoring opportunities with Louis Coulton and Clinton Phillips adding to the pile-up of play around the fringes.

After a solid lead at the main break, the Diggers found themselves on the receiving end of a relentless assault from the Tathra club, who kicked four goals in the third and contained the Diggers to a solitary behind to surge to an eight point lead.

However, the Diggers doubled down on the play they have dominated all year, a commanding presence in mark contests and strong options from range to devastate their opponents in the final quarter.

The big men Matt Molkentin, Ross Oldham, Daniel Worden and Jordan were strategically placed around the ground, providing long-reach options to the Diggers across the park, while bolters like Jedd Martyn, Will Regan and Caleb Higgins got amongst the hustle in the middle.

The Diggers hammering home six goals to one to retake the lead and secure a grand final ticket against the Lions.

"It was a hard-fought game and to hold up and then come out that way in the final quarter to put it away was pretty exciting," Diggers president Jason Raeck said.

"We take nothing away from Tathra though, they kept at us right until the end and it was probably one of the best games of football I've seen in SCAFL to be honest."

Mr Raeck said the Diggers are strong under the high ball, but credited the squad's ability to read play and adapt on the go for their win on Saturday, which puts the club in the hunt for the premiership this weekend.

"We know Tathra have one of the best forward lines in the comp so it was about managing what they were doing and executing our plans in the final quarter," he said.

Wedgies' hopes dashed by Bermagui 

Earlier on Saturday, the Bermagui Breakers had ended the Wyndham Wedgies' grand final aspirations.

Penalties had hampered the Wedgies chances with three fifties leading to two goals directly and forward field position for a third later in play as the Breakers clinched a 9-9-63 to 6-6-42 result.

After battling to a single point difference at quarter time, it was a blowout in favour of Bermagui in the second that helped them build momentum to the win with two penalties allowing Breakers to march right into the goal square for straight shots on goal.

Play steadied through the second half, but the Breakers were able to hold the advantage.

The Wedgies mustered some standout passages of play, including some great physical ball contests where league converts Ryan Becker and Blake Schafer excelled, as well as spectacular marks by Sean Smith and others.

Berrambool home to grand final 

The Merimbula Diggers will host the SCAFL grand final at Berrambool Oval this Saturday and Mr Raeck urges everyone to be considerate of COVID-19 distancing measures.

"This year the ticketing is all online due to the COVID-19 requirements," Mr Raeck said.

Digital tickets are available at eventbrite.com which can be presented at entry for contact tracing protocols.

"We had to do that or the field would be limited to 500 people [including players]. "The main takeaway is maintain your social distancing, please try and use common sense."

Mr Raeck said there would be a security and police presence on the day to ensure people were doing the right thing and reminds spectators that no alcohol is to be brought into the ground.

There will be security at the entry and any alcohol would be confiscated or entry could be refused to those who do not comply.

Mr Raeck also thanks the volunteers and SCAFL for pulling this season together. "At the start of the year we didn't think we would get in two games let alone a season and a grand final, so we just want to pass on our thanks to the volunteers and the league, we know it hasn't been easy for anyone."