Devils, United play in howler at Bega

In control: A Pambula Penguin clinches the ball from his Tathra opponent during Sunday's 3-1 win in gale-force conditions at Bega.
In control: A Pambula Penguin clinches the ball from his Tathra opponent during Sunday's 3-1 win in gale-force conditions at Bega.

Gale-force conditions surged across Bega’s George Griffin Oval on Sunday for two first grade football games in a special extra round fixture. 

Despite a 1-0 lead at the break, the Tathra United first grade succumbed to the Pambula Penguins 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Bega Devils went from an early 1-0 lead against the wind to record a 2-1 win over the Merimbula Grasshoppers. 

In the first-up game, Tathra looked to the right edge for their attacking runs, but it made it incredibly difficult to cross through the howling winds. 

And high balls would carry wildly in the winds, with some Tathra goal kicks soaring straight over the field towards the Pambula keeper. 

Pambula had good control through their back line and midfield with the brother duo of Pat and Tim Wilson syncing up well with Paul Menke and Morgan Jackson in the middle.

However, a quick cross from the right to the middle saw Tathra take the lead, with a missile of a kick curling into the top pocket of the net. 

Despite trailing at the break, the Penguins fired a three-goal second half to clinch the result. 

The visitors were more focused in their attack, utilising the cross-wind from the left flank to fire long range shots on goal and were more comfortable bombing shots on the box from far back. 

The Penguins scored off one such opportunity, after the Tathra keeper was to the left of his box for a goal kick, the Penguins fired the ball back from a mid-air kick deep into the net. 

Tathra nearly made it 3-2 with a late strike, but credit to the Pambula goalie who stopped the shot with a flying somersault to land on his feet, curling in mid-air. 

In the later game, the wind was hitting its peak as gusts screamed at over 100kmh. 

The competition-leading Bega Devils scored early with a seemingly easy goal as they mounted overwhelming pressure on the Merimbula keeper. 

“Over the last couple of seasons they’ve come along way and they’re quite a good team,” Bega coach Jorden Stafford said, commending the Merimbula outfit who equalised 1-1 early in the second half. 

The wind was howling at the Devils’ back, but the Grasshoppers continued to keep the hosts at bay until the dying stages when young Finlay Geoghegan beat the Merimbula keeper for Bega to win 2-1. 

Stafford credited his backline for their defensive efforts on Sunday. 

“The standouts were our whole backline basically, all four of them,” he said with a laugh. “They just stand up and perform every week.”

Merimbula are holding down third place on the ladder behind the Wolumla Tigers, while the Penguins’ win ensured they stayed in fourth place above the Tathra outfit. 

The Grasshoppers will face Wolumla on Sunday in Wolumla, while the Penguins have the bye.