Devastation set in as the final siren sounded, marking the end of the Benalla All Blacks’ historic season.
The Panthers’ gallant season was tarnished as they were soundly beaten by a superior Glenrowan side at W.J. Findlay Oval in Wangaratta.
It was a record-breaking game for both sides — for the Panthers it was their first grand final berth in 22 years, while the Tigers were looking to create their own history by becoming the first side in the Ovens and King Football League to win four consecutive flags, which they did in emphatic fashion.
Strong first-quarter performances from head coach Harry Moran, Al Jacka and Sam Newton ensured a quick start for the Panthers.
Going missing at times were marquee players Riley Moran and Jack Ellis, after their prolific seasons, who were marked out of the game by their Glenrowan opponents.
The Tigers piled on 41 points in the second quarter, while only conceding a goal.
From there it was one-way traffic until the final quarter, when the Panthers put up some resistance, kicking 20 points.
Head coach Moran said to be ‘‘belted’’ in the final was disappointing, and his players reflected on the match long after Saturday.
‘‘We spent the next couple of days together (the team) and a lot of the guys were just gutted with their individual performances on the day.
‘‘I think physically we were prepared, but in terms of mentally, I think a lot of our guys lost the match before we even stepped on the park,’’ he said.
Moran said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some of the younger players at the club.
‘‘I have no doubt they will come back stronger next year. And if we can get ourselves back into that position next year, I believe we’ll be much better prepared, and we will handle it much better next time,’’ he said.
●Turn to page 25 for a grand final picture spread special.