Hawks fly high against crocs
It was always going to boil down to how the Hawks bounced back after last week's drubbing, but any doubts about their desire were squashed in the first 10 minutes against the Crocs at Cazalys on Saturday. The Hawks dominated the Port Douglas Crocs, kicking four goals to one in the opening term of the preliminary final in the face of a stiff breeze.
While they were helped by some wayward kicking and poor marking from the Crocs, their work rate was exceptional and it quickly turned last week’s 92-point shellacking at the hands of Saints into a distant memory.
The blistering start set up what was eventually a hard-fought nine point win, with the Crocs clawing back to lead by one point in the third term.
But goals to Nathan Bradbury and Marc Harbrow late in the fourth quarter all but sealed the result and Hawks will play Cairns Saints on Saturday to decide the AFL Cairns premiership. Winning coach Paul Griffiths said it all came down to their gutsy first-quarter effort.
"We’ve been out of touch a bit in the last month," he said. "But we were able to turn it around when it counted and that quarter was everything – we chose to have a go and that was the difference."
In typical fashion, the Port unit never dropped their heads and it looked like Manunda’s good work may have been for nothing as the Crocs surged back into the contest after half-time with a rush of goals to Timmy Karpany and Sam Boxall.
But two late goals to the Hawks, the second courtesy of Lukas Elich’s pinpoint pass to find Ryan Booth within range, stemmed the flow and put the game back in Hawks’ favour.
"I’m immensely proud of them because the Crocs just keep coming, keep coming, keep coming all day. But we were able to stand up when it counted and respond when we needed to," Griffiths said.
Griffiths shuffled his pack to produce a side he thought would have Port for pace, and it certainly looked to have worked in the first term when Phil Dreise, Willie Alick and Willie Aisi tore the Crocs apart with their speed.
Hardened Crocs’ trio Dan Smith, Karpany and Evan Hocking tried to spark their side with good run from defence, but time and again a dropped mark, poor kick or hesitation in transition halted their charge.
"We won a half, but lost the game and you just can’t afford to play in patches like that," Crocs’ coach Andy Viola said. "It was very frustrating to watch."
Courtesy of The Cairns Post.