RAPT WITH BACK-TO-BACK
AUSTRALIAN RULES: Whitsunday collected their 10th AFL Mackay senior premiership following a superb 83-point demolition of Eastern Swans at Harrup Park last Saturday night.
The Sea Eagles had the 2018 Allied Pickfords grand final in their back pocket by the first change and went on to record a memorable 16.10 (106) to 2.11 (23) triumph.
It was a case of deja vu for Whitsunday and their supporters, with the win sealing back-to-back flags, 12 months after they defeated Mackay City Hawks.
The Sea Eagles sprinted out of the blocks, booting seven unanswered goals to lead by 43 points at the first change.
The relentless pressure and class of Whitsunday shone through as the shell-shocked Swans had few answers, particularly when it came to stopping Matt Galonski.
The mercurial forward is renowned as a big game player and, when given outstanding supply from the midfield, is near impossible to stop.
He bagged four goals in the first term and finished with seven for the match, only shaded for best-on- ground honours by ruckman Mitch Bell and running machine Jared Campbell.
Campbell surely came down with a case of leather poisoning after knocking up winning the football, while Bell again reaffirmed why he was the competition's premier big man.
"We set ourselves the goal of going back-to-back last year and to achieve that 12 months on is great,” Bell said.
"We're 22 best mates and that is what makes successful footy clubs.”
The Sea Eagles' opening burst certainly took much of the sting from the contest.
Whitsunday stretched its half-time advantage to 54 points, despite the Swans finally getting their first goal on the board through Brodie Reck at the 23-minute mark.
The third quarter proved a stalemate, with Jacob Healey's goal the highlight of a forgettable term.
But it set the scene for party time as the Sea Eagles put the exclamation point on a memorable year, with five goals to one in the final term.
Whitsunday coach Luke Sommerville, who oversaw his second flag victory in as many years, agreed this was a golden period for the club.
"It is really special this one, we had 13 boys who played last year and the nine new guys were big for us tonight,” he said.
"To go back-to-back is a magnificent achievement and great for the club.
"We'd been down for a few years and when you've come from that point, you really enjoy times like this.”
Sommerville said while the fast start did prove pivotal in laying a winning platform, the Sea Eagles' approach did not waver.
"We spoke about keeping focus and keeping motivated to make sure the Swans didn't get into the contest and we were able to do that,” he said.
Bell was awarded the best-on-ground medal, with Campbell and Galonski leading lights.
But the success of the Sea Eagles has been built on a deep contribution and they did not have a poor player.
Daniel Hug was class personified, while Regan Williams and Gavin Miller bobbed up with two goals apiece.
Tim Kimberley, Ryan Lee, Jake Hare and Justin Sheahan were other impressive contributors to the Whitsunday cause, as 2018 joined 1993-96, 2004-06, 2010 and 2017 as years the club had been the kings of AFL Mackay.