Batemans Bay Seahawks coach Mick Kenny praised the community for getting behind his side following a 26-point preliminary-final victory over the ADFA Rams at Hanging Rock Oval.
Kenny said it was the biggest crowd he’d seen at the venue in his time at the club.
“I’ve been at the club for six years, and talking to guys who have been there longer than me, we haven’t seen a crowd like that in more than 10 years,” he said. “We’re really thankful to everyone for coming down and helping us get over the line.”
The big crowd didn’t have much to cheer for early on, as the Rams kicked the first two goals of the match through Jack Pavey and Thomas Kleinig.
Kyle O’Malley got the Seahawks on the board midway through the first, and when Nathan Blackburn kicked a goal with less than four minutes left in the quarter, the Seahawks were leading by one point.
Kenny said the first quarter was a sign for how tight the first half would be.
“The first half was a pretty tight tussle,” he said. “We had a good chat at quarter time, we nutted out their game plan, and the game was probably history once we got on top of what they were doing.
“We managed to get right on top in the third quarter, and then conditions became pretty ordinary. We were lucky to have a fairly decent lead going into the last quarter.”
The Seahawks built that lead thanks to a pair of goals to both Sam Millynn and Jarrod Thompson. Despite being held goalless in the last quarter, the Seahawks had done enough for a 7.13 (55) to 4.5 (29) victory.
Kenny said the victory was built in the midfield.
“We spoke about contested ball all week, that was the area we though we get on top of them,” he said. “We dominated that aspect, and our defensive pressure was great.
“If you can get your hands on the footy first, and use it well off the back of that, you’ll be very hard to beat.”
The scoreboard may come as a surprise to many long-term fans of the Seahawks, as usual suspects Ross Hummel, Billy Alves, and Sean Green were all kept off the goal-kickers list.
“ADFA knew they were our tall targets down there, so we had to change it up at quarter time,” Kenny said. “If they were going to put extra work into shutting them down, we’d just have to find other avenues to goal.
“It was good to spread the load a little more this week, and I think we were more efficient going inside 50 because of that.
“We tend to get a bit Hummel conscious at times, but on the weekend we really lowered our eyes and looked to use other targets.
The grand final is a reward for a club that has experienced some uncertain times in the past five years.
“This is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in both on and off the field over the past couple of years,” Kenny said. “To make a grand final in AFL Canberra is unreal, no matter what grade.”