Kempsey Saints reserve grade tasted redemption after they thrashed the Forster-Tuncurry Tigers 6-0 in the Premier League decider on Saturday, two years after suffering defeat in the club’s first senior grand final.
Saints coach Kevin Sinclair believes experiencing heartbreak in 2015 worked in their favour.
“Everyone was calm and relaxed heading into the game,” Sinclair told the Argus.
“No one in the team had played in a senior grand final prior to the one in 2015 and it proved costly.”
Saturday’s triumph helped mend the scars which were formed after the 2015 defeat.
"The loss two years ago doesn’t hurt as much, that defeat helped us earn the win on Saturday so now we will just look at it as a stepping stone to success.”
Saints controlled the contest for the majority of the match, as a wealth of possession and territory paid dividends in the second half.
The scores were tight at half-time, with a Liam King strike giving Saints a 1-0 lead.
Saints extended their lead six minutes after the break with man of the match Mitch Clarke scoring arguably the goal of the season.
Captain Alex Breckell made a run with the ball through the middle of the field and laid the ball off to Clarke, who gave the goalkeeper no chance, rocketing the ball into the back of the net from 25m out.
The Saints ensured history wouldn’t repeat itself when Clarke converted from the penalty spot after Adam Stutz was brought down inside the box.
“The third goal broke the Tigers’ backs, from then on we controlled the whole game but we definitely weren’t celebrating early,” Sinclair said.
Saints substitute Kurtis Smith was tripped out of frustration from a Tigers player and he was shown his second yellow card and sent from the field.
Smith crossed the resulting freekick and King grabbed a double.
Smith added the fifth goal from a similar dead ball position, curling the ball around the wall and into the top left corner.
The icing was put onto the cake by substitute Griffin Ryan, who knocked the ball into the back of the net after a scramble in the box.
Sinclair admitted he was surprised with the final scoreline and said he had prepared his side for a tight game.
“We were all expecting another nailbiter, similar to the 1-0 match in the grand final qualifier,” Sinclair said.
“But everyone did their job and played the game we had been working towards all year, it was the perfect game at the perfect time.”
Sinclair’s emotions ran wild after the game as he reflected on the work put into the club to make their first senior men’s title possible.
“It was a tremendous effort from club members, players, coaches and the committee over the past eight years,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair acknowledged the youth in the side, who gave the team energy, but mentioned the older players lead the way throughout the season.
"We had a great mix of senior and youth players,” Sinclair said.
“It helped shape a premiership winning team.”
Sinclair expressed the team’s thoughts are with Jesse Kerfott, who was forced from the field in the second half after consecutive head knocks, and was dazed and confused.
Fortunately, Sinclair said Kerfott’s memory is improving.
The Saints are hopeful of earning back-to-back reserve grade premierships.