It has been dubbed the premiership quarter and Newcastle City showed exactly why at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday afternoon.
Down by one at the main break after being kept goalless in the first quarter, the Blues 9.11 (65) kicked six majors in the third term to set up a 22-point, grand-final victory over defending champions Terrigal-Avoca 5.13 (43) and clinched the club’s second Black Diamond Cup title in three seasons.
Combined with three goals straight running into half-time, including one after the siren, City managed nine majors to the Panthers’ one in a game-changing 25-minute period.
The third quarter featured a hat-trick from Blues forward Cade Triffit, a rare six-pointer for veteran Newcastle defender Luke Rawnsley from close to the circle on the back of a 50-metre free-kick and an excellent display of marking on the grandstand side of the field by McBain Medal winner Reed van Huisstede.
“The premiership quarter it proved to be,” City coach Tim Cotter said.
“We were confident we’d have the fitness. Whilst they have a very experienced side we had a bunch of really fit, young fellows and we were very confident we would run the game out.
“By the end of it we had four blokes on the bench that probably couldn’t move, but we got everything out of them. That’s what I said, if you come off and you’ve got a bit of energy you haven’t done your job. Just leave it all on the paddock.”
The Blues hadn’t beaten the Panthers in two regular-round encounters this year, but reeled in a 3.6 (24) to 0.5 (5) deficit from midway during the second quarter to repeat the outcome of the 2016 decider between the same two sides.
“It was fantastic,” Cotter said. “I don’t think many other teams particularly rated us all year. It was a tough season, in that we didn’t have the challenge we needed week in and week out because of the competition structure.
“But when we got our challenges I thought we stood up really well. We were confident we could take Cardiff [in the semi] and we hadn’t had our full squad against Terrigal [previously].
“I knew if we could get our best team on the park we’d be a very good shot and it all came together in the end.”
In his seventh straight grand final Terrigal-Avoca player-coach Chris Bishop said the minor premiers, who only dropped one other game all season, struggled to maintain the momentum they built in the early stages of the showdown.
“We started really well, but our run went out of the game for some reason,” Bishop said. “We just didn’t come back out to play [after half-time]. I don’t really know why, but that’s footy and we’ll learn from that.”
City, who were knocked out in the opening week of finals 12 months ago, had several players claim their first flag while veteran Matt Enright clinched his eighth.
“I can’t see a whole heap heading out the door when we’re maybe on the peak of something good,” Cotter said.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day the result was reversed in the Black Diamond Plate decider with Terrigal-Avoca maintaining their unbeaten record for 2018 with a 14-point win against Newcastle City. The Panthers 9.6 (45) overcame the Blues 4.7 (31) with visiting Jason Roach adjudged best on ground.
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