Marlins fly into Black Diamond preliminary final

Nelson Bay are confident they can spring another upset over defending premiersTerrigal-Avoca in this weekend’s preliminary final after knocking Cardiff out of the Black Diamond AFL premiership raceon Saturday.

Marlins fly into Black Diamond preliminary final TweetFacebook Action from Newcastle City’s win over Terrigal-Avoca in Black Diamond semi-finalPictures by Marina Neil The Marlins continued to be the surprise packets of the 2016 season with a come-from-behind win over Cardiff in the elimination semi-final at No.1 Sportsground.

Theytrailed by 27 points at three-quarter time after a scrappy performance and inaccurate goalkickingbut stormed home with the wind at their backs to win 10.17 (77) to 9.10 (64).

Nelson Bay, playing their first top-grade finals gamein 13 years,kicked 11 behinds before Aaron Clayden and Luke Price kicked majors before half-time.

“It was a ridiculously scrappy affair for most of the day, especially on our behalf, but both sides were really scrappy because of the wind,” coach Sean McGrath said.“We decided to kick straight in the last quarter, which we hadn’t done all game.”

The victory was the Marlins’fifth in a row, a run which included a 16-point win over Terrigal away from home on July 30, and McGrath sees no reason his young side cannot roll on into the decider.

“That was the sentiment of the guys after the game:the job’s not done, we’ve got Terrigal next week and we’ve beaten them two weeks ago.”

McGrath, a RAAF operations officer, arrived in the area two years ago, played for the Marlins last season and has now exceeded expectations by coaching them to within one game of the grand final.

“My goal at the start of the year was just to try and get the boys playing some decent footy, and if we made the finals, that was almost above the goal.I was more concerned about the way we were going to play and setting us up for future years.

“For the guys to have come on like they have in the past month has been awesome.

“We’ve got a lot of rugby league converts plus we’ve got a lot of young kids who haven’t played senior footy, so I told them at the start of the year that the stuff we were working on wasn’t for round one or two;this was for the end of the season and, lucky for me, this is how it has panned out.”

Newcastle City, whose only loss of the season was to Terrigal on June 25, controlled most of theirsemi-final against the Panthers before winning10.17 (77) to 8.7 (55) and earning a week off before the grand final.

Josh Wheeler kicked three goals for the Blues.