Investigation awaits after umpires end major AFL game early
AUSSIE RULES: It was supposed to be a game which showcased AFL Wide Bay's best attacking and defensive teams, a possible grand final preview between the supremely talented Gympie Cats and Hervey Bay Bombers.
Instead, the Six Mile Oval game will be dissected by investigators after a melee in the final minutes caused umpires to call the game off early.
While the official result is yet to be published on AFL Wide Bay's website, it is understood the Bombers led by about 50 points at the time and will be awarded the four vital competition points.
AFL Wide Bay president Anthony Stothard confirmed an incident occurred with two minutes left in the game and that would be investigated. He said the result would stand.
The game was officiated by Brisbane-based umpires, and it is currently unknown if AFL Wide Bay's independent investigator will handle the post-mortem or if it will be elevated to AFL Queensland.
Hervey Bay Bombers coach Darren Hunter refused to be drawn on the incident, which marred a heavyweight battle between teams ranked second and third on the ladder and with similar records.
They entered with an identical win-loss record, and with one win each in two clashes earlier this season. Gympie boasted a better attack by just a solitary point - the Cats had kicked 1416 points, while the Bombers had scored 1415 points - and the Cats had conceded nine points fewer than Hervey Bay (683 v 692).
That closeness did not extend to Six Mile Oval, where the Bombers dominated the AFL Wide Bay newcomers.
Hunter said his midfield dominated the win, which puts the Bombers into clear second on the ladder behind local rivals Bay Power.
"Luke Bish, Matty O'Brien, Dean Leary were all great, but our midfield is killing it at the moment," Hunter said. "It was a really good game but we just put our foot on the gas."
The win puts Hervey Bay on the fast track to a top-two finish and, with four games at NE McLean Oval in the final six weeks of the regular season, they are certain to feature in the post-season.
On Saturday the Bombers host Brothers Bulldogs, a team which had the week off due to Maryborough's forfeit.
Gympie will play three more games at home, one of those at Pomona, the home of the Demons and the club with whom the Cats merged to field teams in AFL Wide Bay. The Cats will travel to Bundaberg on Saturday to face The Waves.
More local Aussie rules coverage in today's liftout.