Bolters on the fringes appeared to be key for sides in Saturday’s Group 16 Nines pre-season tournament.
Play went ahead in beaming sunshine, that bordered on being too hot for football early on before a refreshing breeze blew in.
All eight men’s teams had good size in the front lines, but it was the teams offering up bursts of speed around the edges that claimed the advantage.
The Batemans Bay line-up was inspired on the day, putting forward a smaller pack than other clubs, but building towards the final with their speed and quick plays.
Mason Harrison led the charge from the middle, while Mick Taditch was a danger-man on the left edge.
Despite what seemed to work as standard, the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs are worth commending, nearly making the finals with just the bare-minimum of nine players battling it out.
The Bulldogs led their pool on for and against after a great showing, but were relegated from the headline clash as the Eden Tigers swooped on the Narooma Devils with a crushing 20-4 win in the final pool round.
Eden appeared to have a flawless balance, they boasted good size in the middle of the field, with some sprinters on the edges, including Joel Grewar, who was among the top try-scorers on the day.
The Tigers were also booned by the clever kicking game of half John Aldridge, whose early chips and long bombs into the corner paid dividends for the Eden club.
Meanwhile, in the ladies draw, Moruya was the standout, boasting excellent sweeping plays and a few handy sprinters if they made a break.
The Sharkettes swept the Bega Chicks from the final 12-0 to secure the $500 major prize in the ladies’ draw, rounding out an excellent day for the side.
The biggest highlight of the day, judging by crowd reaction, was a bone-crunching hit-up by Bombala forward Adam Rodwell on Bega’s Kane Morgan – crashing into each other at immense speed.
Selectors watched games keenly with teams to be announced for next weekend’s Indigenous v All Star draw, which will run in an under 23s format.
Officials said the Nines was a fantastic day out and a great way to introduce the 2017 season and congratulated all the players who took part.