Warrnambool's under 18.5 grand final victory was one to savour for players and fans alike after it ended a decade-long drought.
The Blues, many of whom featured in the club's narrow loss to South Warrnambool in last year's under 16 decider, prevailed against the Roosters 7.6 (48) to 6.9 (45) in an instant classic at Reid Oval on Saturday.
Trailing 47-24 at the final change, the Roosters looked down-and-out.
But they regrouped for a final charge and threatened to snatch victory right until the final siren.
The Blues however stood tall and held on for a gritty triumph.
Warrnambool ruckman Amon Radley, who kicked two majors in a third-term burst - one from outside 50 metres and a special snap from the pocket - was adjudged one of the best-on-ground medallists.
"This is the first time actually making finals and going all the way is pretty good," he told The Standard.
"It's everyone's dream to get a premiership and I finally got it. And best on ground's just a better touch to it."
Radley, who had his season interrupted by a nasty arm break playing for the senior side in June, said the drought-breaking triumph was meaningful for everyone at the club.
"It means a lot, not just to me but the people around here," he said.
"As you can see there's lots of people here, it means a lot to everyone, not just me and I'm happy to help out."
A delighted Blues coach Damien Sell, who led the club to its last flag in the age group (2011), was still processing the win after the medal presentation.
"It probably hasn't sunk in quite yet, still kind of half shaking," he said.
"It was just a great game of footy and we knew it was going to probably take four quarters... we probably hung on, it was great."
He said it was a "great reward" for the side which had overcome adversity during the year.
"During the year we were really struggling sometimes with numbers," he said.
"We had 36 go through our team which is just phenomenal. We played one game with seven under 16s."
The Blues mentor lauded Radley for his efforts.
"Poor old Amon, he's had some terrible injuries," he said.
"He broke his arm halfway through the year, a really bad break. Just kept working. I live near the oval and I've seen Amon running.
"So reward for effort. You don't get these things without putting in extra yards."
Rooster Danelle Perera was awarded the other best-on-ground medal while teammate and 2023 AFL draft prospect Luamon Lual produced a classy showing and was influential.
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