Eastlake Demons realise a dream with women’s flag

Originally Published by The Age (Caden Helmers)

Slowly but surely, winning the premiership had become more than a pipedream for the Eastlake Demons. On this day it finally became a reality.

The Demons shattered the Queanbeyan Tigers’ premiership defence with a 6.7 (43) to 5.1 (31) victory in the AFL Canberra women’s first grade grand final at Manuka Oval on Sunday night.

Eastlake coach Jackson Nugent wasn’t sure what to expect when round one rolled around given the amount of new faces on his list.

Fast forward a few months and superstar midfielder Najwa Allen has claimed player of the match honours on the biggest day of the year to inspire the Demons to a stunning premiership.

“It was unreal. I think we’ve got nine first and second year players on our list, so at the beginning of the season we weren’t really sure how far we’d go,” Nugent said.

Trailing by 17 heading into the final term, a determined Tigers outfit adopted a simple game plan: kick three goals, don’t give an inch.

Queanbeyan needed to take every opportunity, while Eastlake just needed to withhold the charge.

Demons superstar Karina Demant was stretchered from the field in the final term and was in the hands of the ambulance afterwards.

Even in her absence, all Queanbeyan could manage in the fourth quarter was one solitary major through AFL Women’s draft prospect Alexia Hamilton.

While this was Eastlake’s lone senior premiership this season, a grand final appearance in the men’s first grade competition suggests the Demons are a club on the rise.

“It’s a fantastic place. I’ve been around Eastlake for a while now and I have not really seen the club get around each other as much as we have this year in all the grades,” Nugent said.

From first right through to third grade and the juniors, it’s a fantastic place to be around.”

The loss capped off a disappointing day for the Tigers, who left Manuka Oval with no premiership trophies in tow despite competing in three grand finals.

Queanbeyan’s day of heartache was opened at the same moment the Ainslie Tricolours captured the first of their three senior men’s titles.

Heath Beaumont nailed a goal after the siren to hand Ainslie a thrilling three-point win in the Rising Stars grand final over the Tigers.

Ainslie were given a 50 metre penalty in the dying stages and Beaumont rose above two Queanbeyan defenders to snaffle a mark, before striking truly to give the Tricolours an 8.7 (55) to 7.10 (52) victory.

It was the first flag triumph in a fruitful day for the Tricolours, who again toppled the Tigers in the second grade decider to claim a third consecutive premiership.

They weren’t undefeated this time around but Ainslie were far too good on the biggest day of the year to secure a 10.4 (64) to 4.5 (29) victory.