IN A football match that had everything excitement, tension and drama could offer, the Mirboo North Tigers defeated the Foster Tigers by one point in Mirboo North’s fifth annual Indigenous game since 2016.
Previously, neither club had met in official competition since forming in the early 1890s.
With two Tiger teams in one league facing off for possibly the first time in Aussie Rules history, perhaps a penciled entry into Stan the Statistician from
Stradbroke Island’s VANA exercise book, is warranted.
Following its eighth and narrowest win of the season, Mirboo North replaces Foster — the 2019 Alberton League premier — in second place on the Mid Gippsland ladder.
Both sides looked resplendent in new outfits — Mirboo North was wearing its Marilyn Fenton- designed 2021 Indigenous jumper and Foster donned an alternate yellow and black clash strip.
Prior to the match, a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome To Country was carried out by Christine Johnson, that also included a short performance by the Boorun Boys Dance Troupe.
Mirboo North was strengthened by the return of Hudson Kerr from injury and Clancy Bennett, plus the inclusion of skilful veteran Shane Peters for his first senior appearance this year.
At the end of a tight low-scoring first term during which heavy showers fell, Mirboo North held a five-point advantage after goals from Ben Campbell and playing coach, Josh Taylor.
Both sides’ diversified range of disposals incorporated long kicks here, short passes there and creative hand balls almost everywhere.
However, along with all the pretty stuff came bone-jarring bumps, tackles that brought ball carriers to their knees and countless smothers off opponents’ boots.
Mirboo North maintained its five-point lead at the main break, when Taylor replied to Foster’s second major, after a snappy hand pass from Peters.
In defence, skipper Damien Turner, Julian Blackford, Lloyd Powell and Jacob Blair had successfully turned back numerous Foster forward flurries.
Mirboo North bounced into the third quarter knowing all out attack was its best option to break the game open.
After a narrow miss from Blair, Bennett, Shannon Kennedy and Joel Lambourn combined to run the Sherrin down the corridor to find Tom Campbell, who put through Mirboo North’s fourth goal.
When Rhys Kratzat, with the help of a 50-metre penalty, sent a shot straighter than train smoke through the big white sticks, Mirboo North was 18 points clear.
Foster came back hard with a goal from Michael Green, before a brilliant boundary line banana by Luke Bartlett regained Mirboo North’s 18-point advantage at the last change.
Foster’s heroic final quarter saw it immediately gain momentum in its relentless endeavor to pull this historic encounter out of the fire.
Brendan Neville, Mitchell Allott, Michael Howell and Tom Wigney were dynamic in the clinches, as Foster’s repeated forward entries placed Mirboo North’s back six under constant pressure.
A feature of Foster’s final term, was its outstanding overhead marking in defence and across half forward.
The visiting Tigers resolutely hauled back their deficit with three unanswered goals, that included one apiece from Josh Toner and Troy Van Dyke.
Although the ball spent many minutes inside Mirboo North’s forward 50, only three behinds resulted from its goal-scoring attempts.
With scores level deep into time-on, a Foster snap was marked by Taylor who stood alone on the goal line.
After producing two first-half goals, the Blond Bombshell saved the day for Mirboo North at the other end of the field.