Terrigal Avoca Win Thrilling Black Diamond Cup Premiership
The best Black Diamond Cup Grand Final in a generation saw minor premiers Terrigal Avoca hold off a fast-finishing Cardiff Hawks to win the Black Diamond Cup by a mere nine points on Saturday at Newcastle No.1 Sportsground.
Final scores were Terrigal Avoca 13.11.89 to Cardiff 11.14.80.
In front of a record crowd on a glorious Newcastle spring day, the Panthers won the game in the second and third quarters, where they kicked nine goals to four to set up their great victory over a gallant Cardiff in a truly exciting, thrilling and pulsating Grand Final.
The Hawks led at quarter time after Elliott Davey Medallist Tom Yensch goaled from the 50m arc after the siren. However, led by McBain Medallist James Webster, the Panthers slipped away from Cardiff to lead by 26 points at the last break.
Cardiff, aided by a moderate Nor-Easter, kicked the only three goals of the last quarter but Terrigal threw players back in the last quarter, including veteran Alastair Richardson, and held on in a thrilling finish to a wonderful game.
Cardiff coach Nathan Harkness, never one to die wondering, made some interesting tactical moves in the second half that almost brought victory to the Hawks.
Regular centreman Marcus DeLeur, who copped a knock to his shin late in the second quarter, moved to ruck duties for most of the second half, winning his fair share of taps and giving Cardiff more options in the clearances. Yensch, who suffered cramping in the second quarter, played at full-forward in the last quarter, kicking two goals and nearly stealing victory for his club.
Terrigal Avoca's experience and desperation eventually saw them home. Ex-coach Chris Bishop won many clearances and proved a beast at winning contested ball. Sam Ellis was effective in the ruck and up forward, whilst rover Jack Grimmond continued his recent run of excellent form, often working at the bottom of stoppages.
Terrigal Avoca had four players kick two goals; Ryan Webster, James Webster, coach Mark Skuse and Alexander White. Tom Yensch kicked three goals whilst half-forward Tom Quade managed two majors.
Terrigal Avoca were best served by James Webster, Bishop, Grimmond, Skuse, Jarrad Flint and the incomparable Peter Van Dam in his last game of football.
Cardiff's best players were DeLeur, Chad Mayo, Yensch, Liam Gibson, Simon O'Brien and wingman Trent Thompson, who produced arguably his best-ever game for the Hawks.
Whilst Terrigal Avoca took the spoils winning their fourth premiership in the past six years, Cardiff lost no admirers with a gallant performance.