Marrar are celebrating their first premiership since 1996 after a stirring four-point win against Temora in Saturday’s Farrer League grand final at Robertson Oval.
The Bombers warmed the hearts of a community and exorcised the ghosts of grand finals lost with a 7.10 (52) to 7.6 (48) victory.
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It was set up in the third quarter when the boot of Brad Turner and the heart of Josh Hagar helped them open up a 23-point lead at the final change.
But it was dogged defence which delivered the drought-breaking win, desperately holding on at the death against a rallying Kangaroos, who kicked the only three goals of the final quarter.
“It was a gutsy effort,” Marrar coach Shane Lenon said.
“We hung in. They’re just a fantastic bunch. They did the work all year and they were rewarded today. I’m over the moon.”
Windy conditions made for an intense encounter and the first half was an old-fashioned arm-wrestle.
The game’s first two goals came from free kicks and the lead changed four times in the first quarter, with Marrar holding a three-point lead at the first break
Temora coach Jake Wooden opened up a nine-point lead with two goals in the first seven minutes of the second quarter. But even with the wind, the Roos were unable to kick another.
In fact, they went goal-less until the seventh minute of the last quarter, as Marrar hung tough until half-time and mounted a challenge in the third quarter.
After four minutes, Turner put the Bombers in front for the first time since the first quarter. By the 12th minute, he had four for the game, and the Bombers held a 14-point lead.
Jed Jenkins kicked a beauty from the pocket to ensure Temora would need to find four in the last, but five behinds had worried the Marrar coach.
“We missed a couple of goals that we should’ve kicked and I reckon we were a goal short for the dominance we had,” Lenon said.
“It didn't come back to bite us, luckily.”
Lenon told his players to stay positive, and back the pressure and run that had seen them drop just three games all season.
It took an almighty effort as Temora mounted a challenge, with goals to gun midfielder Sam Jensen, backman Liam Pattison and veteran Damien Ponting bringing them within three points.
When Turner missed a chance from right on the boundary at the other end, Temora remained within a kick. But Marrar’s back six, led by a superb Jesse Cunningham at full-back, got the job done.
He kept Temora’s danger man Matt Wallis goal-less while Matt Harpley didn’t feature.
“I thought Jesse Cunningham down back was brilliant,” Lenon said. “And our midfield stood up. I was confident after the towelling up we got in the semi (against Temora).
“They responded last week against East Wagga. And they responded again today.
“I’m as proud as punch. You can only ask blokes to give it their best and this group did that….
“It’ll be a big night out at Marrar tonight.”
Cunningham was Marrar’s best but at the other end, Turner was outstanding, getting out into space for some key grabs and kicking four of the game’s 14 goals.
Hagar produced some inspirational plays in the third term but all of Marrar’s midfield stood up, with Jesse Margosis and Cal Gardner finding space and Shannon Williams a big presence in the middle.
Temora midfielder Sam Jensen was named best on ground while Daniel Hespe did a power of work at the back, along with Sam Jackson. Captain Charlie Vallance also led by example.
Marrar 2.3, 3.4, 7.9, 7.10 (52)
Temora 2.0, 4.3, 4.4, 7.6 (48)
Goals: (Marrar) Bradley Turner 4, Jed Jenkins 1, Tyler Cunningham 1, Rory Block 1; (Temora) Sam Jensen 2, Jacob Wooden 2, Liam Pattison 1, Mark Breust 1, Damien Ponting 1.
Best: (Marrar) Jesse Cunningham, Shannon Williams, Jesse Margosis, Tyler Cunningham, Bradley Turner, Jackson Moye; (Temora) Sam Jensen, Charlie Vallance, Sam Jackson, Daniel Hespe, Anthony Atkin, Jacob Wooden.
Nitschke-Schmidt Medallist: Sam Jensen (Temora)