THE scoreboard read 22-14 when the final hooter sounded on Sunday, but for the victorious Narooma Devils, the celebrations were just beginning.
A try in the dying minute by Todd Ayres saw the Devils win the 2012 Group 16 first grade premiership in front of a vocal crowd at Bega.
Nerves were strained to the limit as the Devils ran onto the field, led by captain-coach Todd Wright (Group 16 Coach of the Year).
The Devils enjoyed the ideal start, jumping out to a 10-0 lead courtesy of a try by fullback Pat Willis and one from Justin Keegan.
Narooma supporters were there in droves and made every effort to drown out the Moruya Sharks fans.
Moruya hit back in the lead-up to half time, pulling the deficit back to 10-6 at the break.
The Sharks scored two unconverted tries early in the second stanza to snatch the lead on the scoreboard, but the Devils came back courtesy of a second Justin Keegan try to get them back in front 16-14, then spent the last 15 minutes of the game defending their line.
Narooma prop Josh Scrymageour was sin-binned for being third man into a scuffle, but it didn’t appear to faze his teammates and it wasn’t long before Todd Ayres scored the sealing try, securing a perfect finish to the season for the young Devils outfit.
Group president Russell Fitzpatrick said Sunday’s grand final was a “real arm-wrestle” and featured good defence.
Moruya had been tipped as favourites, but was missing top player Aaron Brierley who recently won the Group 16 best and fairest award.
The star performance on Sunday was delivered by Narooma hooker Justin Keegan who, with his two tries, was judged grand final man of the match.
Fitzpatrick said Keegan was a constant threat for the opposition and he received plenty of support from half-back Blake Robinson.
Other tries were scored by Todd Ayers and Pat Willis, with two goals by Blake Robinson.
Two barbecues were manned at Bega during the match to feed the Devils’ supporters with an after-party held at sponsors O’Briens Hotel, a warm up to the Mad Monday celebrations.
In the Sharks camp, players are looking back on 2012 as a big success despite the disappointment of losing both Group 16 grand finals at Bega on Sunday.
The previously unbeaten reserve grade side lost 40-12 to Bega.
“At the end of the day it has been a good year, and we have played well,” first grade coach Richard Bradbury said.
“It has been a great effort and it is fantastic for the club to get to where we are. It just wasn’t our day on Sunday.”
Moruya had qualified for the grand final via a smashing 44-16 win over Narooma a fortnight earlier.
Club president Justin Zutt believed Aaron Brierley could have proved the difference had he played in the first grade grand final.
“Aaron is a match-winning player and had he been there we could have won it, but we had our opportunities,” he said.
Anybody wanting grand final DVDs or old highlights DVDs from 1993 to 2012 can contact Trish Rose on 4476 1375.