Soaring Eagles ambush Bombers in grand final
REVENGE is a dish best served Stone cold - and Across The Waves coach Shaun Stone and his group of revenge-driven players seriously served it up to the Hervey Bay Bombers in Saturday's AFL Wide Bay grand final.
Twelve months after the Bombers smashed the Eagles at their home ground in last year's decider, ATW had a settle to score, with an opening quarter ambush led by Patrick Power setting up a convincing 34-point win.
For the past six weeks Stone has been cooking up a plan on how the Eagles were going to shoot down the high-flying Bombers.
The 14.16 (100) to 10.6 (66) triumph in front of a huge crowd at N.E McLean Oval dashed the Bombers' hopes of making it three consecutive flags and was just the second time they had lost a grand final on home soil.
"There was a bit of revenge in there that's for sure," a jubilant Stone said about the victory.
"It doesn't give back the result from last year, but we worked hard for it and got the right result.
"There was no way we were going to dish up what we did last year and the boys came to play and when they're on they're hard to beat."
ATW arrived in Hervey Bay ready to play, with skipper Ryan Paterson's decision to kick with the wind in the first quarter signalling their intentions to start strong.
From the opening bounce it appeared the Eagles' run and carry, clean hands and ability to split the Bombers' defence would be crucial, booting five goals to one in the first quarter to take a stranglehold on the match.
The Bombers dragged themselves back into the contest in the second stanza, with Jonty Crowe booting back-to-back goals to start the term.
The Bombers got within nine points courtesy of a great left-foot snap around the corner from wingman Dylan Ward, but that's as close as they would get.
The Eagles had heroes everywhere, none more so than Paterson, ruckman Russell Vandenberg and Power, who finished with eight goals, while Ronnie Blair was able to shut down dual Stedman Medallist Brad Richards.
The victory was even more commendable for the Eagles given star player Mathew Stevens was unable to return to the field after suffering a cork to his lower back late in the first quarter.
Bombers coach Troy Ignatenko was reluctant to use the three-week break since their last competitive match as an excuse, but it was obvious they were not the same Bombers that dropped just two matches through the season.
Simple skill errors and losing the clearance battle proved crucial as they were out-enthused by a hungrier and more determined outfit.
Remarkably, it was Ignatenko's first grand final loss during his long coaching career and to say he was disappointed would be an understatement.
Ignatenko felt there were only four Bombers players (Troy Andrews, Jake Nagy, Luke Vanaglia and Cameron Mackay) who "won their position" on the day.
"We were second to the ball and the 50-50s went their way because they were more committed and their best players had a lot of the ball and they're going to hurt you," he said.
"We put in the work and prepared them the best as I can as well as Darren Hunter (assistant coach), but on the day we just weren't good enough. This has been an absolute disaster for me and I'm utterly disappointed and very upset with today's performance, but you have to take it on the chin and all credit to Stoney (Shaun Stone) and Pato (Ryan Paterson) and their team."
While there might be a different feeling around the club in the off-season compared to the mood after the 2012 and 2013 grand finals, Ignatenko was confident the Bombers would bounce back in 2015.
"The Bombers is a very proud club and they players need to take inspiration for next year for it and that's what ATW did," he said.
"It's very early to see what happens next year because it's a migrate town with people floating in and out, but the core fundamentals of the Hervey Bay football club is very proud and we need to stick together as a club and a unit."
AFL WIDE BAY GRAND FINAL
Across The Waves 5.4, 7.9, 11.12, 14.16 (100) def Hervey Bay Bombers 1.1, 5.5, 7.6, 10.6 (66)
Goals - ATW P Power 8, M Blair 2, R Vandenberg, J Bethune, J Trotter, R Paterson.
Hervey Bay I Dunbar 3, J Crowe 2, T Andrews, D Ward, S Collier, S Buckley, J Prowley.