VICTORY AT LAST: The Warwick Redbacks celebrate their grand final win in the AFL Darling Downs first-division competition at the weekend.
VICTORY AT LAST: The Warwick Redbacks celebrate their grand final win in the AFL Darling Downs first-division competition at the weekend. Gerard Walsh

Sweetest of victories for Warwick Reddies

THE Warwick Credit Union sponsored Redbacks created history with a 12-point grand final win against the USQ Cougars in the Darling Downs first-division grand final on Saturday at Rockville Oval.

It was the inaugural first-division win by the Redbacks in the club's 17-year history and their first grand final win in four attempts in the top grade.

It was the first win by a bush team in the AFL Darling Downs first-division competition for 14 years.

It was the first premiership win by a Warwick men's open footy team for 26 years. Warwick teams in Aussie rules, rugby league and rugby union have gone down in the last five grand finals they have contested.

The tone for the victory was set when coach Jason Wright landed the first goal from 30m on a slight angle to put the Redbacks ahead 1.2.(8) before the Cougars worried the scorers.

Anyone who thought the Redbacks were happy with a grand final appearance had an early rethink when Damian Morris showed absolute desperation to beat his opponent to the ball when many would have given the contest away.

The Redbacks led throughout the first half but USQ kept coming back on the scoreboard on the back of some accurate kicking.

Wright admitted he was worried about the kicking percentage of his side in the first half.

At one stage, Warwick led 7.15.(57) to 8.5.(53) when the Cougars landed a six-pointer to take the lead late in the third quarter.

The Redbacks didn't like being behind and regained the lead with a goal just before the hooter.

With his side three points up at three-quarter time, assistant coach Nick Barker told the team they were playing for Warwick and reminded them of a season of hard work.

In the final quarter, Warwick players kept their noses in front and tensions were relieved a little with a Kurt Heier goal with less than 10 minutes to go.

The Cougars landed the last goal but it was the Redbacks' day... and season.

Ellen McConochie medal winner Adam Stevenson said he had never met a better bunch of blokes.

"Four or five could have won the medal. I thought Tim Tate and Brendan Iles were great," he said.

Captain Alex Cutmore firstly thanked major sponsors - the Warwick Credit Union - and recalled the first two tough training sessions under Barker "which put us into shape".

He thanked everyone who had been involved since the club was formed and said they all played a part in the victory.

For publicity officer Colin Pope, it was his proudest moment as a Redback.

"We were the best team all year. I was absolutely confident throughout the game," he said.

Wright admitted he was speechless after the win.

"That's me done," he said when prompted about next year.



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