ROYAL Rebels’ six-year reign at the top of the Warrnambool Eight Ball Association is over.
The Rebels suffered an 8-6 defeat to Royal Rogues in the winter season grand final at City Memorial Bowls Club on Sunday.
The Rogues led 6-1 but had to hold firm after the Rebels fought back to square the decider at 6-6 after the singles rubbers.
But consecutive doubles victories to Justin Allen/Rod Woodbridge and Phil Gray/Justin Gillin secured the drought-breaking title.
The victory was reward for perseverence for the Rogues, who had suffered three defeats to the Rebels in the past six grand finals.
An ecstatic Allen said he could “feel the boat starting to go down” as the Rebels worked their way back into the match.
“Pool, you’ve got to be very precise. You only play one game against a guy. If you make half a mistake, that’s enough to lose,” he said.
“At 6-6 if we’d lost the next game I reckon we would’ve lost the grand final. And I would’ve been absolutely distraught.”
Allen said the Rebels had become such a powerhouse that ending their reign had seemed near-impossible at times.
“It gets to a point where they’re very hard to get over. They’re experienced, they’ve been there before,” he said.
“A couple of seasons ago we had them in trouble and they managed to wriggle their way out of it and get home.”
Carl Bartlett, Joe Cuolahan and Glenn Dalton were the other members of the Rogues’ squad, which will attempt to defend its title next season.
But Rebels skipper Gary Watts vowed his men would do what they could to reclaim their mantle as the dominant eight ball side in Warrnambool.
“We didn’t bring our best game, we were a bit shellshocked at first then came back. Credit to them, we’ll see if we can fight back next year,” he said.
In the division two grand final, City Memorial earned premier and champion honours with an 8-7 win against Flying Horse.
City Memorial trailed 7-5 after the singles rubbers but claimed all three doubles rubbers in the come-from-behind triumph.
The victors were Colby Bowden, Tane Quarrell, Dom Longey, Christian Bowden, Gavin O’Leary, Dave Kirkman, Tom Taylor and Harry Korablitsis.
O’Leary paid tribute to Flying Horse for taking the grand final up to his side - “it was the best they’ve played all season”.
He said going through a season unbeaten was rare in the WEBA and an achievement worth celebrating.
“It was a fair effort. I’ve been playing for 20 years and I can’t remember it being done. That’s something to be proud of,” he said.