SPORT is all about defining moments.
On Saturday at Reid Oval the North Warrnambool Eagles were confronted with a moment of truth that would shape their dreams.
The young Eagles put in a plucky first quarter in the A grade grand final and fought back from three goals down early against powerhouse Koroit to take a 10-9 lead into quarter-time.
With a big horde of supporters cheering them on, the Eagles hit the court running in the second quarter and went out to a 16-12 lead.
The game was billed as the clash of the generations. The battle-hardened Saints had dominated for so long, unbeaten this season and hurtling towards a fourth straight premiership.
The Eagles had come from fifth place. Two weeks before the finals they were in seventh and unlikely to make the top five.
But while the Saints followed the script on the road to the grand final, the Eagles turned it on its head.
They snuck into fifth place and then proceeded to win their first three finals to set up a grand final meeting with the Saints.
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Koroit was aiming for its eighth A grade premiership, the Eagles their first. As they looked at the scoreboard and saw their four-goal lead early in the second quarter, the Eagles might have been forgiven if they suddenly pinched themselves to see if this was real.
But real it was and they soon found out why Koroit is the benchmark of the competition. Within minutes Koroit had not only wiped off the deficit but got one goal in front.
But the Eagles dug deep and got back on level terms by half-time at 18-all.
The battle was on and no one was going to get anything easy, as desperation and skill were served up by both teams in equal measure.
The Blackburn sisters, Laura and Annie, were brilliant in attack for the Eagles while Sarah Bullen caused the Saints some headaches at wing attack. Jordyn Billings was brilliant in defence.
Koroit hung on and while it wasn’t playing badly, it was not quiet clicking and the search for top gear was still a grind. By three-quarter-time the Eagles had snuck out to a 24-23 lead and no one in the huge crowd was going anywhere.
With the game on the line the Eagles didn’t back down from their attacking brand of netball, shooting the first three goals of the last quarter to lead by four.
The Saints worked that back to three and there was still enough time if they were good enough.
But the Eagles could taste victory and rather than go back into their shells and defend the lead, they attacked some more and extended the margin to six goals.
The Saints shot the last goal of the game but this was history being made — the Eagles’ first A grade premiership since coming into the competition in 1997.
While the final siren brought hysteria in the Eagles’ camp, it was a bitter pill for the Saints to swallow.
They were white-hot favourites coming in without a loss for 2013, aiming to be the first team to win four flags in a row since South Warrnambool from 1987-1990.
As the masses walked away from this memorable grand final the chatter was whether this was the changing of the guard. Had this brought to an end the golden Koroit era and paved the way for the Eagles to take the reins?
Only time will tell and while the Eagles look to have the goods to continue to be a force, write off Koroit at your own peril.
But for now the Eagles have an A grade premiership cup to drink from and a flag to hang proudly at Bushfield — just rewards for a very special performance.