The Macintyre Warriors won a Group 19 first grade grand final, and it was all due to their defence.
Both teams are renowned for their attack, but the Warriors especially have built a benchmark presence on their ability to score from anywhere.
But for most of the second half they were camped on their own line, turning back one Narwan raid after another.
It was in stark contrast to the first half when the Warriors threatened to blow open the grand final, racing to a 22-4 lead with only minutes left to the half-time hooter.
But this Narwan team is made of sterner stuff and proved in two titanic final encounters that their attacking flair can match the Macintyre boys. They were aided by the ill-discipline which threatened to derail the Warriors in the first semi-final.
In the dying moments of an enthralling first half, the Warriors were marched down the field for repeated infringements until Narwan had them boxed in on their own line.
Slowing down the play one too many times, the Warriors found themselves one down – the first of five – and on the next play Narwan strolled through a defence stretched to its limits. It was 22-10 and Narwan was back. And with the Warriors undermanned for virtually the first 10 after halftime, the game was once more, wide open.
The Warriors were cutting through Narwan’s defence when a slicing run by Buddy Brown ended when tight defence stopped him from getting the ball away to his left. But from there the ball was swung wide to the right where Brandon straightened up and bulldozed his way over.
It was a tough kick from the sideline especially in the swirling conditions. And the wind appeared to have undone Sampson when the ball served right before hitting the goal-post, and falling over.
The second half was a gold mine for league lovers. Nuggets of exquisite skills, and the heart-thumping pressure which causes mistakes in even the most skilled.
Down a man the Warriors could only relieve the pressure momentarily as Narwan built up one attacking raid after the other. But the Macintyre boys, tipped to “implode” if the pressure became too great, did the opposite. It was 22-14 with 20 on the clock. It was probably the longest 20 minutes of football either team had played. It was certainly that for fans of both teams.
In the last few minutes the Warriors lost two more for infringements and yet somehow, still manage to hang on to a victory they won’t forget. Like two weeks before it was all a matter of what might have been for a gallant Narwan Eels.