The Merimbula Diggers travelled to the Bill Smyth Oval in Narooma to challenge a competitive Narooma Lions team on Saturday.
Conditions were perfect for a solid game of Aussie rules in the sunshine, with only a slight breeze blowing.
The opening to the game was extremely tight and tense, as both teams battled for supremacy.
It wasn’t until the endeavour of Matt Tull produced the first goal on the scoreboard for the Diggers.
However, the relentless nature of the Lions and quick ball movement into their forward line resulted in an immediate reply goal.
With a goal from Ian Radford at full forward Jack Murphy and Tom Burch continued to rack up possessions of the football.
Brayden MacDonald across the back half repeatedly repelled a number of Lions forward thrusts.
As the game see-sawed it was the Lions’ inaccuracy in front of goals that allowed the Diggers to lead at quarter time by a 10 point margin.
In the second quarter the Lions quickly remedied their inaccuracy with two early goals as they started to take control of the centre bounce clearances.
In a great passage of slingshot football MacDonald initiated a clever disposal to Tull, then onto Dan Edwards who nailed Radford for a goal.
Edwards came to the fore again with a forward delivery that found Radford under pressure, but managed a smart handpass to Sean Baggett who booted it through.
Despite some good moments of play by the Diggers, errors kept creeping into their game plan such as fumbling on the ground, not picking up the football at the first attempt, and running away with the ball.
As the easterly breeze across the ground gathered momentum, Matt Tull continued to shine with two impressive goals.
Meanwhile Tom Ferguson was doing a good job in the ruck and the Diggers defence stood tall for the quarter.
In a real competitive term by both teams the Diggers now lead by 13 points over a determined Lions outfit.
At half time the Diggers led 8.4 (52) to the Lions’ 5.9 (39).
At the half time address playing-coach Edwards focused in on more pressure at contests, improvement in centre bounce clearances and better communication amongst his players.
The Diggers were off and running early in the vital third quarter through two really good passages of football.
A display of Tom Ferguson baulking and weaving around his opponents with a well executed disposal to Radford sealed a goal.
Another defensive rebound from Baggett to Kane Hider with a long driving kick to Radford who added another goal to his tally were positive highlights for the Diggers.
The Lions were not to be denied nailing a goal at the other end.
In fact in the later stages of the term the intensity of the Lions lifted as they bombarded their forward line, reaping the rewards by scoring several goals.
The score line may have been worse if it was not for Baggett, who still maintained a high level of defence for the Diggers with his ground level tackling and clearances in tight contests.
At three quarter time the scores were levelled at 66-all.
Again Edwards provided attack on the football showing great intestinal fortitude to his fellow players.
However, early inaccuracy by the Diggers was proving costly on the scoreboard.
As the last term progressed both teams were literally going at each other with unrelenting vigour.
Possession of the football became tougher as both teams vied for control.
It was now evident that Diggers were starting to see their applied pressure actually clamping down their opposition.
Finally, Edwards paved the way with two decisive goals while Tull using his ball flight skills nailed an important forward goal.
The Diggers were now dominating all over the ground.
Not only through the centre bounce clearances, but the physical ongoing hard drive at the ball and repeated forward thrusts.
It was simply the continual grinding effect of the Diggers that took its toll on a brave Lions outfit.
In the end Hider sparked an opportunistic snapshot goal to seal the Lions’ fate.
It was certainly a close and intriguing contest with the Merimbula Diggers edging out a persistent Narooma Lions team by 27 points.
Diggers 14.10 (94) over the Lions’ 9.13 (67)