A STUNNING second-half scoring spree has helped catapult the West Wyalong Mallee Men to back-to-back Group 20 first grade premierships, after overcoming bitter rivals Tullibigeal Lakes United at EW Moore Oval yesterday.
While the final margin of 28 points might indicate one-way traffic, the catalyst for the Mallee Men's historic win came in the 60th minute when TLU lost centre Alex Ronayne, who was sent from the field in what was a spiteful contest.
From there the wheels feel off the Shark's premiership bandwagon, as West Wyalong proved too powerful and clinical when it mattered to romp away with the game in front of 4500 fans.
It was 46 years between West Wyalong earning back-to-back titles, and the sound made by the Mallee Men faithful at full-time might be heard for another four decades.
West Wyalong co-coach Willy Jones was relieved to have survived the at-times brutal game, saying the contest lived up to all of the hype.
"The boys dug in and Lakes are just a freakish side and I suppose we got away with it in the end," Jones said.
"They have done really well this year, at times things have been tough for them and he (TLU coach Anthony Chambeyron) has brought them back to life.
"There was plenty of build-up to the game, so we're going to celebrate this win, but hats off to the Lake boys."
The emotion of the day and what the game meant to his side was written on TLU coach Anthony Chambeyron’s face for all to see at full-time.
Chambeyron, who helped instil a sense of self-belief in the 2012 Sharks, said the result crushed many of the side's senior members who had been through the dark times in the club's recent history.
"They (TLU) haven't been in one (grand final) for 23 years and haven't won one for 38," Chambeyron said.
"There's a lot of hurt at the moment, there's guys who played back in the days when they were getting beaten 80, 90-nil and we had some guys in absolute tears thinking they had cost us the game today (Sunday).
"But our blokes tried and I'm proud of them but it was a bit hard when we went one (player) down.
"But the support from the town has been amazing, I could come out here again next year. I wasn't going to, but they're that good a people."
West Wyalong through Matt Nicholson were first on the board after they created room on their left edge, after a clever run-around play involving prop Mark Wood.
TLU's Michael Mitchell grabbed the lead after West Wyalong turned over off the restart, but despite having the majority of possession in the first half, the Sharks were unable to apply the blowtorch to their opponent's line.
The first shot fired across the bow saw Mark Leadbitter taken off injured after copping a heavy shot, sparking a war of words from both sides, typifying the rest of the game, as tensions boiled to the surface often.
Back-to-back penalties helped Jones made it 10-4 for Wyalong before Michael Mogliotti scored under the black dot to help his side draw level.
A lack of different running lines out wide for TLU helped the reigning premier's defence number up well, and the Sharks struggled to break through the line as West Wyalong scored a vital try on the stroke of half-time to grab a 14-10 lead.
TLU continued to push low percentage passes after the break, but looked to have scored through Matt Pike, but he clearly bounced the ball over the line.
Mark Wood, who was judged best on ground, went close to crashing over out wide, and when the pile of bodies spilled onto the sideline, it started another altercation with a section of fans baying for blood as the tension filled the air.
Ronayne was soon sent for an early shower while West Wyalong's Matt Stewart sat out 10 minutes, as the Mallee Men capitalised on the disruption scoring three tries in seven minutes to blow the game wide open.
From a four-point lead West Wyalong suddenly found themselves in front by 22, as they rode a tidal wave of support from the red and black army, all the way to the 2012 title.
West Wyalong 38
TLU Sharks 10