Hawks repeat success

MANUNDA Hawks staved off an electrifying Cairns Saints comeback to claim a fiercely contested Grand Final and back-to-back AFL Cairns premierships on Saturday.

The Hawks went behind briefly in the last quarter for the first time since midway through the opening term but they over-ran Saints in the final 20 minutes.

Six goals to Gabby Weetra and five from last year's Grand Final hero Kevin Rundle saw the Hawks claim victory 18.7 (115) to 13.16 (94).

After a tough lead up week with just 16 of the starting Hawks 22 training on Thursday and three players - Ryan Cypher, Matthew Savage and Dayle Muscat - having to pass fitness tests on Grand Final morning, the victory was one to savour.

"Back-to-back is amazing, it has been a really long year, you just can't describe how it feels," Hawks captain Adam Baker said.

"The Saints have been the ones we have been chasing and comparing ourselves with all year.

"So just to come out and for the boys to have a really good game, I probably hold this one in higher regard than last year just because we had to fight so hard to get there."

The match was brutal from the beginning with both teams throwing muscle and desperation into every contest.

The battle between Jamie Scrymgour and Brett Jeffrey through the midfield typified the contest as the two strongmen went toe to toe all day.

But after just nine minutes the game was stopped for 20 minutes when Saints star Josh Dicketts was felled hard before having a fit on the field that lasted five minutes.

An ambulance was called and when Dicketts was taken to hospital, much of Saints plans went with him.

Hawks dominated the opening term with Weetra running rampant and proving too strong for Jeremy Watt, kicking four goals before quarter time.

Manunda continued dominating in the second period and when Kevin Rundle kicked a goal a minute from half time, Hawks were well and truly in control and ahead 9.4 (58) to 4.7 (31). But after half time Saints rallied and it was their coach and leader Mark Kennedy who led the charge. Kennedy, who was awarded the best on ground medallion, was brilliant in the term kicking two goals and assisting in two more.

Saints kicked the opening four majors and when Charlie Dixon took a screamer of a mark and goaled just before halftime they were just one point behind Hawks and full of run.

Hawks coach Mick Purcell loaded his forward line looking for goals in the fourth with Rundle moving from the half-back line and Dayle Muscat moving off Matt Walsh and into the forward line as well.

But still it was Saints who struck first with Matthew Turner goaling and earning his team the lead, albeit only briefly.

The Hawks were worried but they steeled themselves, Rundle kicking three final term goals to wrestle back control and put Saints to the sword for the flag.

"There was a bit of doubt there, because you have worked so hard to get here and then it comes to that," Baker said. "But the character of the boys to come back was amazing.

"Saints were coming, they kicked five or six straight and were looking good so you have some quick doubts but the boys put their heads down and worked for the result."


Courtesy of the Cairns Post



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