A gallant Eden Whalers outfit were no match for a rampaging Merimbula side, falling to a 149-point defeat at the hands of the second-placed Diggers at Berrambool Sports Complex on Saturday.
The match was something of a blast from the past for the Whalers, who welcomed back Allan Morris and four former players from Mallacoota for the afternoon.
Their presence wasn’t enough to counter a powerful Merimbula team however, with Daniel Edwards and Luke Bland kicking six goals apiece to lead the way in a 165-16 thrashing.
The Whalers struggled to compete against their opponents’ superior height, and found themselves held scoreless in the opening term as the Diggers opened up a 34-0 lead at the first break.
Club spokesman Harry Weatherman said the squad still found positives to take into the second quarter.
“Ryan Turnbull was playing well with the freedom of playing in the middle of the ground, and Dan Preston was able to run and carry the ball and try to push it forward,” he said.
“But the forward line had trouble keeping possession and using the ball to Eden’s best advantage.”
The change of ends appeared to help the visitors though, and they controlled the majority of possession in the lead-up to halftime.
Despite this, they managed only two majors through Ryan Turnbull and Michael Preston, with Merimbula adding another five goals to their tally to open up a 53-point halftime lead.
Eden would manage only three behinds after the halftime break, while the home side piled on another 99 points, including 14 unanswered goals.
Weatherman praised the Whalers’ efforts despite the heavy deficit.
“Nick Smith was gathering positions, and by the final quarter Pete Russell was moving up from the forward line to gather possessions and work the ball forward,” he said.
“Jaydn Spivey again showed clever play and Ryan Turnbull was working hard in the backline, but the Diggers were dominant.”
Award winners for the Whalers were: Eden Radiator, Ryan Turnbull; IGA, Michael Preston; Eden Outdoor & Marine, Pete Russell; Golden Ocean Restaurant, Jaydn Spivey; Cass’s Corner and Eden Fishermen’s club, AJ Grant; Eden Carpet Cleaning, Dan Preston; Bendigo Bank, Kane Kirkby; and Naomi Turnbull goal kicking, Tom Reichelt.
Eden now has a week off, before ending the season at home to Narooma and Bega.
Weatherman said the next outing is one for all locals to mark down in their calendars.
“This will be Paul “Plugger” Kirkby’s 400th game, so if you have been associated with the club at any stage of Plugger’s long career, come down and help him celebrate the day,” he said.
“There aren’t many players that have accomplished this.”