Queanbeyan breaks Ainslie's hold on AFL Canberra first grade premiership
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Queanbeyan breaks Ainslie's hold on AFL Canberra first grade premiership

Queanbeyan coach Paul Campbell took his team to the premiership, but he'll get a demotion next year - and he couldn't be happier.

An inspired move of switching veteran fullback Neil Irwin (five goals) into the forward line in the second half was the catalyst for an 18-point victory - 10.7 (67) to 7.7 (49) - over Ainslie in the AFL Canberra first grade grand final at Gungahlin on Saturday.

Michael Wescombe who celebrated his 200th club game in style.

Michael Wescombe who celebrated his 200th club game in style.Credit:Elesa Lee

With the Tigers opting out of next year's NEAFL, Campbell will step back to assistant coach to allow Kade Klemke to remain as senior playing coach.

"You do well and you get the boot," Campbell joked.

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"That's all good, I'm happy. It's just a change of roles. I'll be the senior assistant on match days and I'll almost be doing the role I'm doing now, just that Kade will be playing as well."

The grand final was a tight, contested game, with just three points separating the sides at half-time, before Irwin made his mark on the game.

Irwin has been toying with retirement, but opted to go around again to try to play in a flag with good mate Michael Wescombe, who celebrated his 200th club game in style.

It's been a stunning year for Wescombe, who won the Jack McNamara Medal, along with Eastlake's Tony Fenyvesi, as first grade's best-and-fairest and he also won the goal-kicking award as well.

Matthew Liddle was best on ground playing across half-forward, while Mitch Heaslip, veteran Alex Lawder and Kieran Shea also played well for the Tigers .

"[Irwin] has played down back all year and he went forward and kicked five goals. It was a big move and it payed off," Campbell said.

"His best mate [Wescombe] was still playing and he had a couple of things up his sleave he wanted to achieve and he's done that."

Ainslie was going for its third straight premiership, but couldn't match the Tigers' physicality.

Tricolours coach Paul Neiberding praised the efforts of veteran David Love, skipper Ben Hackett, ruckman Reuben Haupt and youngster Tom Powell.

"It was a disappointing result at the end of the day. Queanbeyan came out and played a very physical game of footy and while we played the same physical game, they were just better at it," Neiberding said.

AT A GLANCE

Queanbeyan 2.1 3.5 7.7 10.7 (67)

Ainslie 2.2 3.2 4.2 7.7 (49)

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.