SEA Lake Nandaly Tigers have won over plenty of new admirers after an impressive performance in Saturday’s NCNA A-grade grand final.
The Tigers gave Wedderburn the fright of its life before succumbing 42-47.
It was easily their best performance for the season against the powerful Redbacks, who had defeated the Tigers three times previously during the season – each time by 15 goals or more.
The five-goal thriller at Boort continued a run of nail-biting A-grade grand finals, highlighted by a one –goal win to Charlton in extra-time in 2016.
Impressively the Tigers were playing in a grand final in only their second season in the North Central competition.
They previously played in the Mallee league, which was disbanded at the end of the 2015 season.
Jodi Cox, who was one of three joint coaches alongside Tigers stars Abby Walklate and Ash Roberts, said she could not have been prouder of the team’s effort.
“Wedderburn is a class act and I think losing the grand final last year added that little bit of pressure for them,” Cox said of her side’s bright opening quarter which ended with a one goal lead.
“When you have been so good for such a long time, you do worry about things.
“And because we were such underdogs, you never knew what we were going to bring on the day.
“It’s nice to know they were a bit worried.”
The Tiger gained quality performances from goal attack Walklate and goal defence Roberts, who staged an epic one-on-one battle with class Wedderburn goal attack Meg Lockhart.
“Ash did some great things that helped us get back in the game,” Cox said.
“And Abby just ran and ran.”
Cox insisted her side would learn from the grand final loss and come back a better and stronger team next season.
Adding to the optimism over the Tigers’ future, their under-16 A team also narrowly missed out on a premiership, losing another tense premiership decider to Wedderburn by three goals (28-25).
With juniors such as under-16 A league best and fairest Claudia Cox, centre Amy Collins and goal keeper Chloe Wright expected to one day join A-grade best and fairest and star goal shooter Nakia Nunn, who is only 19, in the line-up, the Tigers appear to have much to look forward to.