The Pambula Panthers development grade will play in the Sapphire Coast AFL grand final after a nail-biting 6.11 (47) to 7.2 (44) win over the Narooma Lions.
The Panthers started brightest, getting the ball forward at will for the first ten minutes of the game.
The Lions were struggling to break through the Panthers’ press, but Pambula failed to make them pay as they kicked six behinds in the first quarter.
This early inaccuracy cost the Panthers’, as the Lions kicked two goals against the run of play, including a goal after the siren from Ross Harris, to take a six-point lead into the first break.
The second quarter became a tight tussle, as the Lions’ started to work their way into the game.
Pambula still seemed to be on top in the contest, but their lack of composure going forward was a major concern.
Tom Keath had a chance at their first goal, but he kicked directly into the man on the mark, a snapshot of the first half in general for the Panthers.
The second quarter remained an arm-wrestle throughout, as both sides only managed to add one goal to their tally to see the Lions’ lead 3.1 (19) to 1.6 (12) at half time.
The third quarter is commonly known as the ‘premiership quarter’, and the Panthers showed why they are the team to beat in the development grade coming out of the break.
Their start to the third quarter was similar to the first, as they controlled the ball out of the middle and sent it forward at will.
They were able to capitalise this time though, as three goals inside the first five minutes saw them build an 11-point lead.
Narooma did work their way back into the contest again, but Pambula kicked four goals to one to take a 14-point lead into the final change.
Pambula looked set to run away with the fixture, but the home crowd support seemed to kick the Lions’ into another gear.
Narooma kept chipping away at the lead, and trailed by less than two-goals with time winding down.
Tony Bromage had a chance to peg the lead back late in the game, but he sprayed a set-shot wide with less than five-minutes remaining.
Luke Gardiner kicked a late goal to bring the margin back to three points, but time would run out on the Lions as the siren went with the ball traveling inside 50.
Narooma will play Tathra in next weekend’s preliminary final in Merimbula, while the Panthers’ will enjoy a week’s rest before the grand final in a fortnight’s time.
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