CLASS usually prevails on the biggest stage.
And so it proved for the Wagga Tigers after their silkiest players grabbed their chances when it mattered in a 16.8 (104) to 12.11 (83) AFL Riverina Championship grand final win over Leeton-Whitton at Robertson Oval on Saturday.
Kicking with the aid of a strong breeze in the first term, the Crows couldn't take their opportunities despite dominating general play to take a 3.7 (25) to 2.0 (12) lead at quarter time.
After Jade Hodge kicked the first goal of the second term for the Crows, the Tigers' prime movers put the foot down as last year's Riverina League champions piled on six unanswered goals to take a 21-point lead at the main break.
Norm McLennan medallist Shaun Driscoll and Brayden O'Hara, playing with a calf injury, booted three goals between them in that period as the Tigers took control.
James Grills was also outstanding with three goals, two of them superb finishes from the pocket into the breeze, while Hamish Gilmore and Justin Jenkins kept Crows forwards Hodge and Cooper Sharman relatively quiet.
The Tigers' six-goal burst was effectively the difference, and indicative of a Crows finals campaign where they've been left to lament crucial lapses in games.
Crows midfielder Lucas Meline was outstanding and the minor premiers were well on top early, but couldn't pile on any scoreboard pressure.
Tigers coach Troy Maiden said their best players stood up when the game was waiting to be won.
"It was nice to kick 16.8 instead of 8.16 like we'd been doing earlier in the year," Maiden said.
"They're class players and really good finishers. That's when good players play well, they play well when stakes are high in finals footy.
"I thought most of our guys contributed today and that's what we wanted, we don't need anyone to be superstars.
"I thought our young defenders were outstanding in Hamish Gilmore and Justin Jenkins, the jobs they did on their two key forwards was great."
Leeton-Whitton coach Daniel Muir confirmed the grand final was his last game afterward, and said the Tigers' second quarter assault knocked the wind out of their sails.
"They just wanted it a bit more in the second quarter. We didn't take our chances with 3.7 in the first quarter, we didn't make the most of the scorigeeboard again which has been a bad habit of ours all year," he said.
"It is deflating after we did the hard work and couldn't put the score on ourselves, then they go bang, bang bang. That was the difference in the end today.
"I'm done, I'm too old and grumpy now so I'll let the kids take over."
WAGGA TIGERS 2.0 8.4 12.5 16.8 (104) def LEETON-WHITTON 3.7 4.7 8.9 12.11 (83)
GOALS: Tigers - Brayden O'Hara 3, James Grills 3, Shaun Driscoll , John Buchanan, Jesse Manton, Shaun Campbell, Brendan Myers, Brocke Argus, Angus Durnan, Jake Gaynor, Nathan Cooke, Luke Gestier; Leeton-Whitton - Bailey Wood 2, Mitchell Hardie 2, Cooper Sharman 2, Jade Hodge 2, Ryan Dunn, Jeromy Lucas, Josh Thomas, Jayden Lehman
BEST: Tigers - Shaun Driscoll, Reid Gordon, James Grills, Charlie Bance, Shaun Flanigan, Luke Gestier; Leeton-Whitton - Lucas Meline, Tom Meline, Sam Hopper, Mitch Hardie, Ryan Grey, Bryce O'Garey.