The Great Southern Inn Eden Tigers quest for a third consecutive premiership ended last Sunday in Bega when the plucky Tigers went down to the Bega Roosters in the elimination semi-final.
The game started with the customary heavy forward exchanges with Michelin and Baker prominent.
Early handling errors slowed them down until Bega’s Scott Fuller opened the scoring and Hudson’s conversion gave Bega an early 6-nil lead.
Heavy defence from both sides forced handling errors but after consecutive penalties to Bega, Bega’s Michael Apps crossed and Blacka’s conversion gave Bega a 12-nil lead.
This seemed to spark the Eden side into action and after a strong run by McBain, Jai Tinson scored out wide to put the Tigers on the board and the score was 12-4 with the try unconverted.
That was where the scoring finished at the half-time break and coach Hennessey, whilst pleased with his team’s effort, urged them to improve their handling and complete their sets in the second half.
Eden opened the second half in positive fashion when elusive hooker Matt Evelyn scythed through the defence to score under the posts. Eden moved to within striking distance with the Fletcher conversion bringing the score to 12-10.
The Eden side seemed to lift a gear and Nat Rodahl was prominent in attack and defence while CC Hennessey also led from the front.
Eden’s attack was still marred by dropped balls which led to a heavy defensive workload for all the Tigers.
This defence took its toll and the Bega side began to run over the top of the Tigers and four tries in the final 12 minutes eventually saw the score blow out to 36-10, hardly an indication of the magnificent effort the Eden players had put in.
At the end of the day a heavy injury toll meant that the Tigers challenge for the historic third premiership was always going to be a big ask.
Congratulations to all players on a grand effort through the season.
It would appear that we’ve seen the last of the great Neil Baker although one can never be too sure of this, but if that is the case, Neil’s fantastic career would rate him as one of the all-time great Eden Tigers. See page 30 for reserve grade and junior news.