THE sheer joy was plain to see on Hamilton Kangaroos’ faces as they took out the Hampden division one premiership with a 34-31 win over grand final debutants Port Fairy on Saturday.
The Kangaroos had been forced to watch on as other teams collected premiership medallions the past two years, but were determined to rectify the situation in the decider at Reid Oval.
The Kangaroos had lost the previous two encounters between the teams, but a strong start helped their cause as they took an 11-7 lead into the first break.
They maintained a five-to-seven goal buffer for most of the next two quarters, and were up by nine goals at the final change.
Their lead got out to 10 goals in the last, before a desperate fightback from the Seagulls threw the result up in the air.
With a few handy turnovers, they soon had the margin back to five. The Kangaroos tried desperately to halt the Seagulls’ momentum, but a few nervous moments saw costly turnovers, and Port Fairy drew ever nearer.
The Seagulls drew within a goal in the final few minutes, before a couple of steadying goals saw the Kangaroos restore their lead to three before the final buzzer went.
“I was very nervous all week from last week, but we pulled it together and the girls helped me get along, so that was good,” Kangaroos coach Rhianne Lewis said.
“We had to have that start. Last time we played them, we lost that start and it kind of put us on the back foot from the start, so it was really important for us today and we did that, so that was fantastic.”
Lewis, who has led the division one outfit to a grand final in each of her three years at the helm, was elated and relieved with Saturday’s triumph.
“We’ve lost the last two, so third time lucky feels just incredible,” she said.
“I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, so to get it, it’s just an amazing feeling. It’s impossible to describe it.”
Tireless Kangaroos centre Chloe Tuffnell was awarded the Jo Arundell medal for best on court
.She provided plenty of drive for the Kangaroos all match and was relentless with her pursuit of the ball.
“It was just amazing – I can’t even explain how good the feeling is right now,” Tuffnell said.
“(Winning the medal) was also amazing, but everyone deserves a piece of this medal because we all just played unreal together and made it happen.”