KENDALL Blues led from start to finish on the way to claiming the 2017 Hastings League title on Saturday.
The minor premiers proved too good for Comboyne 28-14 at Lank Bain Sports Complex which avenged last year’s grand final heartbreak.
On that occasion they fell short 29-26, but history was never going to repeat 12 months later despite their slow start.
They always looked to have the match in their keeping, but it wasn’t until a Beau Kettle kick for centre Jahbe Latham in the 68th minute that they could breathe easy.
At the time they clung to a 20-14 lead.
“I’ve never kicked a ball in my life,” Kettle said.
“I’m not much of a passer and I looked around and could only see Tigers jumpers around me so thank Christ Jahbe was there.
“He’s a bit quicker than what I am.”
The Blues captain spent the final five minutes in the sin-bin alongside Tiger Todd Hurrell after the two were involved in an altercation as the clock wound down.
It was Hurrell’s second stint in the bin for the match.
I’ve never kicked a ball in my life.
Kendall led 14-4 at the break in a scrappy first half where they would have been lucky to complete their sets at better than 50 per cent.
“We say that every week we’ve got to complete our sets and we never do,” Kettle said.
“We let them into the game and I don’t know what it is, but we always seem to have slow starts against Comboyne.”
The minor premiers extended their lead to 20-4 early in the second half when five-eighth Alex Pearce chipped for centre Sean Minns to win the race to the ball.
Two tries in eight minutes to Shaun Madeley and Blake Reis gave the Tigers hope of a comeback win until Kettle’s kick for Latham.
“We got comfortable and slackened off which is when they stuck it to us, but once we stopped turning the ball over and kept the pressure on I felt pretty comfortable,” Kettle said.
The Kendall captain said five-eighth Pearce was one of the best on the field.
“He put the ball on a dime today,” he said.
“His kicks in behind, the repeat sets and the tries he put on were unreal.”
Comboyne captain Dean Hurrell admitted there were a “few things that didn’t go our way.”
“That didn’t help us and obviously they built momentum on the back of it,” he said.
“We were a little bit off the speed, we came into it injured, but so did they so it just wasn’t our day.”
In the end we got beaten by 14 points so we weren’t good enough.
In a stop-start affair, he didn’t feel his side had the luxury of receiving any 50-50 decision.
“We were getting cruelled anytime we were laid in the ruck and they were getting away with it,” he said.
“But that’s footy and we’ve got to suck it up. In the end we got beaten by 14 points so we weren’t good enough.”
In a gutsy performance, Hurrell was knocked out cold early in the match, but bravely returned 10 minutes later.
The 14-point defeat meant he didn’t repeat his father’s heroics of coaching back-to-back premierships for the Tigers.