They know how to break a drought out Marrar way. And boy, do they know how to mark a milestone.
After waiting 21 years for last year’s flag, the Bombers backed it up with a second straight Farrer League premiership on Saturday, holding on to beat North Wagga by 12 points and complete the perfect 100th birthday celebration.
In their centenary year, the tiny town’s standalone club won all four grand finals they contested – the under 17s netball and all three grades of football, crowned by a hard-fought 8.8 (56) to 6.8 (44) win in seniors.
"How good's that? I'm still pinching myself. It's as good as it gets,” Marrar president Terry Langtry said.
“In your wildest dreams you wouldn't think of it. It's certainly history for our club… they’re very rare those achievements.”
On a windy day reminiscent of last year, the Bombers built their first grade victory in an eerily similar fashion, breaking away in the third quarter and then holding on in the fourth.
“They showed a lot of ticker,” coach Shane Lenon said.
“But that’s them, mate. They’re a good bunch. They prepare the right way and they put in the work. If you do that, you can absorb pressure.”
Marrar were never behind in a tight first half, leading by two points at the first break and five at half-time, but the Saints had drawn level on three occasions. And early in the third quarter, North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin kicked his second goal to put his side a point in front.
But the Bombers lifted, dominating play from the 10th to the 20th minute and in half that time – with three goals in five minutes (through Zach Walgers, twice, and then Brad Turner) – they’d opened up a 20-point lead in conditions hardly conducive to scoring.
“We had a 10-minute run in the third quarter where we had momentum,” Lenon said. “It was tough. The conditions made it fairly tough but that period where we kicked those goals was, in the end, the difference.”
North Wagga mounted a last quarter challenge but Marrar had desperation and composure. They gang-tackled Saints star Lachie Highfield when he threatened and held their nerve as the Saints kicked two behinds and then a goal to Jake May, after a 50-metre penalty put him right in front, to close to within 13.
Fourteen minutes in to the final quarter, a screamer from Daniel Jordan had Marrar hearts in mouths and Saints hopes rising but the North Wagga forward missed his shot. In the next five minutes, Jake May and Corey Watt also couldn't quite make the most of chances.
Marrar, experienced and measured, held on for a two-goal win and a two-flags achievement.
“With seven or eight minutes to go, we had to dig in,” Lenon said. “They were coming back hard and the boys lifted and credit to them. They put in the work – they prepare the right way, they don’t cut corners – and that’s the whole club. We had four sides in grand finals and won the lot of them. That’s not luck, that’s done through hard work.”
If it was won in the third quarter and sealed in the fourth by Marrar, they built their platform for victory in the second. Kicking 4.0, against the breeze, they kept the Saints at bay.
The last of those was to Walgers – the first of his three critical goals in a low-scoring game put them six points in front after North Wagga had evened it up again through Jordan.
But at the other end, from start to finish, the Bombers’ star backmen, brothers Clint and Mitch Taylor, were nothing short of brilliant, proving North Wagga’s nemesis again, defusing raids time and again.
While Jack Reynolds shone with some superb touch across half-back, including arguably a match-saving intercept in the third quarter, not to mention floating forward for a goal in the second quarter, to be named best-on-ground.
On the boundary, they were driven by a man who had just won a ninth premiership as a coach, and his second in two seasons at Marrar.
“I’m just rapt for the whole community. I know how special it is, especially in the hundredth year,” Lenon said.
“It’s a great effort. It’s reward for hard work, from the committee to the supporters to the players. They put a plan in place two years ago, they’ve worked awfully hard towards that plan and obviously today was reward for all the work that’s been put in.”
It was left to the president to deliver words of praise for their coach.
“We wouldn't be where we are without Sparks,” Langtry said. “You can see why he’s been so successful. He’s a people person. He gets everyone working in the same direction and everyone on board. And enjoying themselves too."
Marrar 1.3, 5.3, 8.7, 8.8 (56)
North Wagga 1.1, 4.4, 5.4, 6.8 (44)
GOALS: (Marrar) Zach Walgers 3, Jack Reynolds 1, Jackson Moye 1, Jake Hindmarsh 1, Tyler Cunningham 1, Brad Turner 1; (North Wagga) Daniel Jordan 2, Kirk Hamblin 2, Lachlan Highfield 1, Jacob May 1.
BEST: (Marrar) Jack Reynolds, Clint Taylor, Mitch Taylor, Tyler Cunningham, Zach Walgers, Josh Hagar; (North Wagga) Lachlan Highfield, Sam Longmore, Kirk Hamblin, Ben Alexander, Cayden Winter, Brayden Skeers.
Nitschke-Schmidt Medallist: Jack Reynolds (Marrar)