Round 16 - 18 August 2018
Diggers v Melton Centrals @ Diggers
Video highlights from jmacmedia
Diggers Rest has claimed the greatest Senior football premiership win in the history of the Riddell District Football Netball League.
The Burras were looking to win its first Senior flag in more than 20 years and lined up against its old nemisis Riddell who had taken the honours against them in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013, on the back of going down in the previous two Grand Finals at Romsey Park.
The Bombers were looking to claim its sixth flag in seven attempts in the past 11 years.
With Riddell losing Jason Allen in the preliminary final, it was up to Reserves coach and experienced runner Cam Casson to replace him in the team. Diggers Rest had called on experienced veteran Shane Marchewka to step up in the absence of injured Sean Egan on the eve of the finals, and he maintained his place in the team.
Romsey Park looked more like a swimming pool in the days leading up to the decider, but the hard work from the Redbacks club ensured it was in ideal condition.
Kicking with the aid of a slight breeze, it took Riddell just 80 seconds to kick the opening goal of the game, through James Nolan in the goal square.
Brent Tuckey replied at the other end after a strong mark, and barely able to stand on one leg. The free flowing game from both sides had Diggers Rest command in the inside 50s but for little reward. They missed five shots on goal either side of quarter-time, trailing by eight points at the opening minute of the second term.
Brayden Allen dominated in the ruck for Riddell who continued to feed the ball down to his midfielders. Team mate Haydn Ross received a number of heavy knocks but still kept pushing hard as the game lifted in intensity in the second term.
Tuckey kicked his second goal early in the term and then team mate Jason Williams kicked a goal that should be remembered as his greatest act of the day. Williams gathered the ball in the right forward pocket and dribbled the ball through for a remarkable goal on the run more than 30 metres out to put his team in front for the first time in 35 minutes. It was a classic.
Riddell's Lachy Henson was rewarded from repeated efforts on the wing with a brilliant goal inside 50 to put his team in front. Disaster struck for the Bombers as Allen was yellow carded in the shadows of half-time, leaving the dangerous Burras one extra man, and that was the gallant Tom Gleeson who did as he pleased.
Scores were level at half-time in a hard contest, 26 points apiece.
Michael Evans started the third term in style with a goal for the Burras in the opening 30 seconds and Marchewka goaled from a free-kick just moments later as Diggers Rest opened up a handy two goal lead, it's biggest margin of the day.
With Allen off the ground, and Nolan needed to play in the ruck, league leading goal kicker Brian Ruffell was locked out of the game by Burra backman John Ryan as Riddell was starved of goal scoring power.
That changed when Paul Sahlberg and Nolan kicked back to back goals to level the score six minutes into the term. Former Bomber Cam McCabe responded shortly after as Diggers Rest would not back down.
Allen returned to the field, and Diggers Rest won the battle of the extra man, 3.1 to 2.0.
Brenton Stancombe was on the receiving end of some friendly fire after being cleaned up by Nolan, and the speedster played like a man possessed from his recovery and levelled the scores again.
Mick Kilty restored order for the Burras with another big goal, only to be matched by Nolan at the other end with the reply on the restart as the scores were level for the fourth time in 18 minutes of play.
Nolan added his fifth as Riddell kicked three consecutive goals to push to a 13 point lead approaching the end of the third term.
Disaster struck for Diggers Rest when tensions flared and the returning Mick Kilty was in the heart of it, getting himself yellow carded on the stroke of three-quarter-time in an act that didn't serve his team well.
The stage was set for a thrilling final term. With Diggers Rest down to 17 men, this didn't take away their confidence. A goal to McCabe and several missed chances had the margin trimmed to five points. The Burras scored 1.3 to 0.1 in Kilty's absence.
Riddell's interchange was rotating through very quickly with sore bodies on and off the field while Diggers Rest had plenty of pace to offer.
Ruffell, who had been well held all day, streaked into goal at the 17-minute mark of the term to put the Bombers ahead by 13-points. Lachy Henson kicked a point from for Riddell moments later to put the margin ahead to 14-points, a valuable point in the context of the game as it was accidentally missed by those in the scoreboard at the 18 minute mark of the term.
Two missed chances from the restart had the margin cut to 12-points, or 11 on the scoreboard heading into time-on. Mick Kilty served made amends for his yellow card, kicking a big goal at the 21.5 minute mark to cut the gap to a kick. He added his second two minutes later to level the scores, but at which time the scoreboard had yet to be corrected.
Diggers Rest thought they were in front. They flooded the backline from the restart as the scoreboard changed in the process to show the scores were level. The Burras held onto the ball, many of them believing that they were in front. Tom Gleeson held the ball aloft as the siren sounded in front of the scoreboard.
What followed was pure drama at its finest. Celebrations started on the field as Diggers Rest thought the drought was over. Umpires were quick to confirm the draw, and it the game headed into extra time, for the first time in the league's history.
Both teams would play five minutes with time-on each way. Riddell's Cam Casson was awarded a free kick in the opening 90 seconds to put his team ahead. The siren sounded with the team leading by seven points, after the quarter lapsed 6.15.
The second term started with a goal out of no where from Brent Tuckey in the goal square to cut the margin back to a point in the opening minute.
Diggers Rest attacked hard, but Riddell held firm.
The ball pushed forward for the Burras, in front of their coaches box and Jason Williams delivered his moment, a premiership moment, from an identical spot to his dribbling goal, he put his team ahead by five-points with a remarkable effort on the angle at the five minute mark of the term.
Riddell pushed forward one more time. A booming kick inside the 50 led to Tom 'Leo Barry' Gleeson having his moment. He soared to the heavens and took one of the great gutsy marks to take the ball out of Riddell's grasp. His trademark mark will long be remembered and idolised in football history.
The siren sounded moments later after a Diggers Rest point.
Diggers Rest were crowned premiers 12.14.86 to 12.8.80 in a win that is equal to that of Sunbury Kangaroos' first premiership win on the siren in 2012.
"It was always going to come down to Riddell, it was always going to come down to over-time, it was always going to come down to less than a kick, there is so many emotions going through my head, it's the best day of my life, " Tom Gleeson said after the game on the back of that heroic mark.
"I don't know how I did that, (take that mark) to be honest, both legs were locking up with cramp, I could barely move, I could barely walk, I just jumped, it fell into my hands."