Sport across regional Australia has endured all the vagaries of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions but in 2021 there WAS action.
Many of the big ticket items returned to the sports calendar, sporting history was made in all manner of places and a vague resemblance of grassroots sports was played across the nation - COVID restrictions depending, of course.
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Women's surfing history was made in Newcastle when four-times World Champion surfer Carissa Moore scored a 9.9 for her frontside air reverse.
Dozens of professional photographers lined the shoreline for the men's events from sunrise. But Newcastle Herald photographer Marina Neil was one of few professional snappers who returned after the men's event. This was her - and our - reward.
Mention boxing and Anthony Mundine in the same sentence and a crowd will likely form. That was the case when the sports superstar headed to Bendigo in March to fight Michael Zerafa for the WBA Oceania middleweight title.
As basic as boxing may seem, photographing it is a challenge. The environment is largely dark, there's a lot of movement and anticipation is probably a photographer's best asset - as the Bendigo Advertiser's Darren Howe demonstrated.
You don't have to be on the court or on the field of play to get wrapped up in sport. Take Illawarra Hawks coach coach Brian Goorjian, captured here by the Illawarra Mercury's Anna Warr.
It came down to the final 10 seconds of the regular season but the Hawks bagged themselves in the season finals and Goorjian's reaction said it all in front of the home fans.
History was made in September 2021 when, thanks to COVID-induced border closures - two AFL finals were played in Launceston. It was the first time that any AFL final had ever been played in Tasmania.
It probably wasn't not the ideal place for a Sydney derby but that didn't faze Craig George, from The Examiner. He too made his AFL debut, albeit on the sidelines, and came away with this Buddy Franklin don't argue. Nick Haynes, of GWS, was on the wrong end of Franklin's shove.
It was a sight that was to become a familiar one over the course of the NRL season - Penrith muscling their way to victory and speedster Brian Tu'uo touching down over the white stripe.
Rugby league fans in the NSW Central West had an early glimpse of the Panthers' charge to the premiership when they notched their eighth win on the trot at Bathurst Carrington Park. Phil Blatch and his camera was there for the Western Advocate.
It doesn't have to be pretty, right? But it has to be effective. This piece of exquisite timing from photographer Peter Lorimer for the Newcastle Herald captures Blasters keeper Ben Balcomb doing his best to effect a run-out against Lake Mac Attack in round three of the Plan B Regional Bash at Stockton.
Spot the winning team. Orange High School student Caleb Frecklington slotted a free kick from near the halfway line into the top corner, breaking the 0-0 deadlock with Dubbo College.
As a year 12 student it was Frecklington 's last game for his school and, as it would turn out, the last Astley Cup game for the year as COVID put an end to the tournament a few weeks later. Riley Krause from the Central Western Daily captured the moment.
Don't think it's just the NRL superstars who take to the air. Daily Liberal photographer Amy McIntyre captured Caleb Cook in single-minded pursuit of four points in this season's Group 11 competition.
Cook scored two tries on the day and helped the Dubbo team to a win but it's the effort of everyone in the frame that captures the bushy footy spirit.