THE Cooma Cats AFL side were triumphant in their first finals victory in 20 years on Sunday defeating Ainslie in a fourth v fifth elimination final at Jamieson. The final scores Cooma 11.11 (77) to Ainslie 7.6 (48).
The Cats went into their second consecutive year of finals looking for redemption after last year's first round exit and faced a determined Ainslie side whom they had tied with earlier in the year.
The Cats charged out of the blocks early and set up a two goal lead with entries into their forward line being rewarded with some excellent conversion from their inspirational captain Taylor Lee. The midfield worked hard to contain their opponents who had a height advantage but once the ball was at ground level it was the Cats who maintained their composure and skill and tackling intensity. Ainslie were by no means out of the contest and worked out their opponent's strengths very quickly and played their own game to get back in it and kicked goals to keep the contest tight. At half time there was only a goal or two in it and, if anything, Ainslie looked to be getting control and the Cats depth was going to be tested if they were to get the victory, as injuries and illness looked to take their toll. The big Cooma crowd showed their support and cheered on the team to lift in the third term and keep Ainslie at bay, the Cats displaying their strength from the home and away season with pressure and great tackling and terrific rebound footy. At the final break coach Damien Asanovski implored his side to show the character of resilience in the face of adversity and to keep their season alive in the final 25 mins. The Cats found something within in an outstanding final term and with the umpiring finally turning in the Cats favour for the first time the scoreboard started to truly reflect the difference between the two sides as the Cats kicked five unanswered final term goals. Some great games from Robbie Schelberger, Nathan Runge, Kyle King, Rob Price, Matt Briant, Sean Hanily and Travis Duroux setup the win and the Cats charge into the second week of the finals against a Yass side coming off a loss to Goulburn. The game will be played at Gungahlin town centre oval at 12pm next Sunday and fingers crossed another big crowd can get the Cats home.