Lake Albert have capped off a perfect Pascoe Cup season after defeating Young 2-0 in Sunday’s grand final at Equex Centre.
Despite playing out a scoreless draw during their last encounter, the Sharks were red-hot favourites against the Lions and rarely looked troubled en route to a 2-0 half time advantage.
Early goals to experienced duo Jamie Rankin and Duncan Brodie put the minor premiers out to an early lead and Young could offer no response after the break.
Lake Albert coach Mitch Tinnock was thrilled with the result and paid tribute to his hard-working team.
“It’s such a hard competition and to go through undefeated is pretty amazing," Tinnock said.
“Every team can beat you and you’ve got to turn up to every game otherwise you’ll get knocked off.”
The Sharks entered the contest off the back of a 20-game unbeaten streak and looked at ease in the grand final cauldron with Fred Gardner firing early for his side.
Lake Albert’s offensive pressure squeezed the Lions during the opening 20 minutes and only a pair of Mitch Cameron saves kept them in the contest before Rankin cracked the navy wall with a 23rd minute strike.
Young’s defence collapsed again nine minute later when Jordan Callaghan lost his footing in the box, allowing Nick Anderson to cross to an unmarked Duncan Brodie for the simplest of goals
Henri Gardner threatened to stretch the margin to three goals with a 34th minute pot shot but Cameron was again up to the task and kept his side from slipping away as the referee blew half time.
Young needed to score first in the second half to keep their dream alive and Callaghan almost delivered, blasting a 40 metre effort that just missed the top right corner.
Bolstered, the Lions pressed on with Isaac Hines and Patrick Hislop working hard to try and spark a fightback.
It’s such a hard competition and to go through undefeated is pretty amazing.Lake Albert coach Mitch Tinnock
Hines went close in the 67th minute and kept chancing his arm but Sharks goalkeeper Hayden Callander was rarely troubled as the Lions fell prey to low percentage shots.
In a blistering final 20 minutes, Young began to stretch the tiring Sharks and chanced their arm – but to no avail.
A sharp save from Callander in the 90th minute denied the Lions a even consolation goal and when the full time whistle blew, it was party time for the Lake Albert faithful.
“Everyone stepped up today. I thought Jamie (Rankin) was a beast out there and Chris (Durman) and Blake (Smith) shut down Young’s attack really well,” Tinnock said.
“Young really like to use their fast wingers in attack but those two were outstanding and did a great job in defence.”
The victory avenges the memory of last year’s painful grand final loss and sees Lake Albert return to the premiership circle for yet another season.
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