Coleambally set the scene for a blockbuster against East Wagga-Kooringal next week, with a dominant 40-point win over defending premiers, The Rock-Yerong Creek, in their own backyard on Saturday.
The convincing 8.8 (56) to 2.4 (16) victory was the Blues’ fifth in a row, and their most convincing.
They’re the first side to knock the Magpies off this year. They were also the last team to beat them, with an upset at Coleambally back in round 16 last year.
As the world mourned the death of a legend, Muhammad Ali, the heavens opened seemingly in mourning and the Blues took the fight to the reigning champions.
Dave Pieper kicked the game’s first goal 10 minutes in, but it was a rare foray into TRYC’s forward line.
Coleambally enjoyed the weight of possession and made their punches count, answering with four straight goals for a 19-point lead at quarter-time.
Five minutes after the break, James Fallon had kicked his third, Brandon Mathews his second and the Pies’ only hope was that they were going to ‘rope-a-dope’.
But on a ground partly under water and with a footy that felt like a medicine ball, five goals up was a match-winning advantage.
“We knew wet weather – it’s hard to come back from that if we got a good start and that’s what I told the boys,” Coleambally coach Josh Hamilton said.
“I geed them up for a good start and that’s what they did.”
The Blues were smarter and more desperate but to put the result down solely to the conditions would be to undersell their performance.
With Hamilton dominant in the ruck, they moved the ball better all day – whether scrapping it forward any way they knew how, or using it cleanly when they could.
And pressure all over the ground told on TRYC.
Key forwards Mitch Ward and Andy Carey, who’d kicked 50 goals between them in their first six games, could barely get a touch let alone on the scoreboard.
And a rough day for the Pies was summed up in their scoreless third-quarter when their only opportunity for a goal ended in a free kick to Coleamabally after a desperate tackle in defence.
The game was already in the bag but goals to Nathan Jones and Jake Breed a couple of minutes either side of that play confirmed the Blues’ dominance.
Hamilton didn’t hesitate in declaring it their best win of the season, praising their attitude as they cut out the turnovers and lapses that have plagued their game.
“It’s our mindset – when we’re going good, it’s mental,” he said.
“Physical capability and skills and stuff don’t seem to be too much of a problem.
“Just concentration, not giving them a chance and once we’ve got a run on keep pushing forward.”