The Tumut Blues saved their best for when it mattered most, slaying perennial Group 9 powerhouse South City 28-4 in a sublime grand final display at McDonald’s Park.
Jubilant players were mobbed by euphoric fans after the siren sounded as the tight-knit club celebrated the end of nine long and often lean years since their previous triumph.
Stung by a try to brilliant Bulls five-eighth Nathan Rose in the 15th minute, the Blues soon grabbed the upper hand on the back of a powerhouse performance from their vaunted forward pack.
Man of the match Lachlan Bristow got the ball rolling with a slashing solo try midway through the first half and he doubled up five minutes later, this time with a show of strength from close range as Tumut took a handy 12-4 lead into the break.
The Blues pack then turned up the heat in the second half to leave Southcity stranded.
Barnstorming prop Zach Masters bullocked his way across five minutes into the half to extend the lead, before Ben Roddy kept up his tryscoring exploits for a 22-4 advantage at the 50 minute mark.
With the Blues forwards at times making upwards of 70m in a set of six, it was no surprise to see Lachlan Bristow nab his third and at 28-4 the result was all but beyond doubt, with 25 minutes still to play.
Southcity had little fight left as Tumut took its foot off the pedal, able to soak up the significance of their achievement whilst still on the field.
Co-captain-coach Dean Bristow said the game could not have played out any better for his team.
“We’ve been building nicely over the finals series and to put it all together on the big day means the world,” Bristow said.
“We’ve probably played our best game of footy in I don’t know how long. It’s just unbelievable.”
A local junior whose family involvement in the club goes back generations, Bristow is proud to have played a part in getting Tumut back to the top.
“It’s honestly the best feeling in the world.” he said. “All I wanted to do growing up is to play first grade for Tumut and to co-coach a premiership team is beyond my expectations.”
The elusive fullback had to endure one of the worst seasons the club has ever recorded in 2016, when he moved back to his hometown from the south coast.
He admits the disappointment of that year has been a driving force.
“It honestly broke my heart moving home in 2016 to see the club I once loved in such a sad state of affairs,” he said. “It has been a mission of mine to turn that around.
“I’ve had countless conversations with Adam (Pearce) and that was a driving factor … we wanted to rebuild this club back to where it was. It’s been a lot of work, but we’re finally back at the top.”
The Tumut co-captain-coach said an emphasis on culture was the backbone of the club’s resurgence.
“What I grew up loving about the club was players ripping in for the jumper and your mate,” he said.
“We have a great group of local players, and those not from here have bought into that culture. The end result is today … we’ve held a team that’s dominated this competition for a number of years to just four points, and run away with the grand final.”