Match Report - DROUGHT BROKEN GREAT VICTORY OVER ARIAH PARK
By JACK LUHRS
A road 16 years long came to an end on the Narrandera Sports Ground on Sunday when Griffith won their second South-West Premiership - the first since 1952 - when they defeated Ariah Park convincingly, 13-17 (95) to 10-11 (71), before a crowd which paid $3,542 at the gate.
Runners-up in 1964, '65 and '66 and wearing the label of always a bridesmaid and never the bride, the Swans began nervously but by the end of the second quarter, top team quality showed out.
The beginning of the end became obvious in the third quarter - 6 goals to 2 in this session and the long awaited Premiership loomed in sight.
From that point Griffith never looked back and hundreds of their fans swamped the team as it left the ground with a 24 points win.
The Swans effectively hobbled the Ariah Park stars Vernon Drake, Ricky Quade and Jim Prentice, and without their drive the Bombers looked outclassed.
Sid Robins rated amongst Griffith best players in a side featuring team football and although Drake won a small number of their early clashes, Robins slowly but surely began to peg him out of the game.
Why the Ariah Park brains trust left Drake and others in positions where they were being beaten is one of the reasons why they lost.
John Foley handed out a football lesson to Neville Anderson, Ricky Quade had little success against the high flying, bustling Phillip Smith and Jim Prentice hardly got a touch in the ruck.
On the day the Bombers rucks and rovers took a thrashing.
Bill Biron and Bob Spears gave possibly their best ever in their long history with the club whilst rovers Scott, Kirkpatrick and Tyndall scorched their opponents with their pace.
The Griffith win hinged on team football. They won in every position on the ground and with big Roger Thom, after a slow start, getting on top at centre half forward, the result was inevitable.
Skipper Ron O'Neill with six goals was the target for the Griffith forwards and some of his snap shots were sheer delight.
With umpire Peter Sheales allowing the game to flow with few interruptions, both sides had ample opportunities for full blooded tackling and several incidents were spiced into the game.
The first occurred early in the first quarter, when Geoff Martin was heavily floored behind the play and in a flash Darryl Collis and John Candusso, two of the youngest players on the ground raced in to support their team mate.
Martin was one of the stars of the win. He made perfect position on the flank and many times was let run loose by the Bombers backline.
Ariah Park had a few heroes, a number of triers and many more plodders. Earlier they mixed hip and shoulder play with smart movements around the ground to build up a 6 points lead on the first change.
But a 3 goal burst by Griffith in seven minutes half way through the second quarter rattled the Bombers and they never recovered.
Griffith's pace in the warm conditions was a telling factor. Beautifully palming the ball off the packs to support a fast moving team mate, the Swans frequently raced the ball from defence into attack in a matter of seconds.
And when it came to the heavy physical clashes and there were many of them during the day, the Swans traded bump for bump in a spirited indication of their preparedness to win the ball at all costs.
This was team work at its best and put paid to the critics who claimed Griffith did not have what it takes to win finals.
The win was their 13th straight and in a topsy turvey season they remained as the only club to show consistency.
Physical fitness paid its dividend.
The Ariah Park room after the game was a sorry sight with Noel Anderson bleeding from a cut over his eye and many more players with minor injuries after the gruelling game.
In the Griffith room the scene was much gayer. Players and supporters boisterously began their victory celebrations.
Goalkickers for Griffith: Ron O'Neill 6, John Scott 2, Bill Tyndall 2, Kevin Kirkpatrick and Bob Spears one each.
Ariah Park: Ricky Quade 3, Bruce Chalmers 2, Jim Dunn, Keith Rees and Jim Prentice one each.
Best players: Griffith: John Foley, Bill Biron, Bob Spears, John Scott, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Ron O'Neill, Geoff Martin, Phillip Smith, Roger Thom, Sid Robins
Ariah Park: Bruce Chalmers, Vernon Drake, Ray Johnson, Bruce Baker.
The Area News, Tuesday September 24, 1968