The winning Grafton Tigers u18 team.
The winning Grafton Tigers u18 team.

Junior Tigers make late charge to clinch decider

AUSSIE RULES: They left it until the last minute, but the Grafton Tigers under 18 side prevailed in a tight North Coast AFL under 18 grand final against Coffs Breakers on Saturday 58-56.

Trailing by two goals with two minutes to play, it was two bombs from the 50-metre mark from Sydney Swans academy member Hamish Ellem which pushed the Grafton side to the win.

To make the effort more astounding, the Tigers played the game with

no fresh reserves, with many of the players cramping towards the end of what coach Warren Bagnall said was a hard-fought match.

"It was always close," Bagnall said.

"We kicked the first goal of the game and then they took the lead by two to three goals for much of the game."

The Tigers kicked 16 behinds to go with their seven goals, and Bagnall said the game would have opened up if not for some bad luck in front of goal.

"We came out in the third quarter and kicked eight straight points, which made the result much harder," he said.

"Some were pressure kicks, others just hit the post."

The Tigers defeated the Breakers two weeks earlier to reach the grand final, in what many said was the best performance of the season by any side, in junior and senior football.

"The Breakers put up a good fight, it was to and fro all the time, but they all played really well," Bagnall said.

He said many in the team had played together since under-15s and the finals experience they had last year served them well.

"They're a great bunch of boys, the whole lot of them," he said.

"Many of them are only 15 so they'll be a good side for years to come."

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