Hawks first into 2017 grand final by Richard Jones

Bendigo Football League finals wrap…

eaglehawkeEAGLEHAWK outlasted Strathfieldsaye by three points in Saturday’s tight and tense second semi-final to earn first berth in this season’s grand final.

Staring down the barrel of a five-goal deficit midway through the second quarter the Hawks still trailed at the last break — but they’d re-grouped and were behind by just four points.

Storm’s Sam Heavyside cost his side a Big Dance spot by hitting the post from straight in front with less than two minutes left on the clock in the gripping last stanza.

Heavyside was just 15 metres out when his shot cannoned into the left hand upright.

Sean Williams was outstanding for the Hawks in the second half, booting five goals: two in the third quarter and all three Eaglehawk majors in the last.

And classy onballer-forward Ben McPhee continued with his great season, snagging four goals.

Storm’s Ron Best medallist Lachlan Sharp was a constant threat to the Hawks’ defence. He booted six majors, actually finishing the semi-final with 6.4.

But he had just a few helpers. Josh Formosa and Harry Conway both added a pair of majors but they were in and out of the play all evening.

Strathfieldsaye will need to re-focus for Saturday’s preliminary final against Golden Square before Eaglehawk’s contender for 2017 flag honours is revealed.

Golden Square ground out a heart-stopping four point win over old rivals Sandhurst in Sunday’s cut-throat first semi and will pose a huge prelim. final challenge for Darryl Wilson’s Storm.

THE turning point of Saturday night’s epic second semi was a five-minute period late in the second term when Eaglehawk rallied from a 30-point deficit to cut the leeway to just five points at the long interval.

The Hawks’ midfielders, led by playing coach Josh Bowe, got on top and with Riley Saunders and Ben McPhee booting two goals apiece the Hawks were back in the game.

Both sides added four goals in the gripping third term with co-captain Shannon Geary and centreman Trent Donnan both nailing Storm majors.

Both sides had players who suffered from third term brain fades.

Eaglehawk’s McPhee marked five metres out from goal but instead of taking his shot he handballed to Gedd Hommelhoff and his grubber was smothered through for a behind.

At the other end Storm playmaker Jake Hall played on after taking a mark in the goal square.

Hall handballed to Matt Harvey but Harvey’s kicked was blocked on the goal line by Hawk defenders.

STRATHFIELDSAYE’S four-point lead at the start of the last term didn’t last long.

The Hawks dominated the early going but added just 1.3. The goal came from Sean Williams’ boot.

Normally a defender Fergus Payne bobbed up with a Storm major, but when Hommelhoff weaved through a pack and found Williams for his second goal of the term the Hawks held a six-point lead.

Mid-term the Hawks again broke through the Storm zone with Scott Harper’s handball finding Williams on his own inside 50.

The prolific forward ran into an open goal to nail his fifth and open up an 11-point buffer for Eaglehawk.

The Storm kept coming. Harvey missed a set shot from 40 metres out before the dynamic Sharp broke clear and landed his sixth major of the night with an excellent snap.

Strathfieldsaye pressed again with the ball landing in Heavyside’s arms just 15 metres out.

But he wasn’t able to convert and the Hawks emerged victorious by three points as they smothered any Storm forward moves in the final 70 seconds.

goldenSANDHURST can blame a heap of missed first-half opportunities for Sunday’s loss to the Bulldogs.

A paltry return of 1.5 in the first term and a half-time score of 1.8 meant there wasn’t much scoreboard heat on the Square.

And by the 13-minute mark of the second stanza the Dragons had scored nine times to the Bulldogs’ four yet scores were level at 14 apiece — Hurst 1.8 to the Dogs’ 2.2.

Then the Square caught the scoring yips with its next six shots resulting in a half-time tally of 3.7.

Sandhurst coach Wayne Primmer agreed that his players should have had kicked four goals in the opening term.

“Had we been 4.2 instead of 1.5 it would have helped. Then it got out further to 1.8 so that’s

the frustrating part of it.”

The semi-final was the last in the Dragons’ colours for reigning Michelsen medallist Kristan Height who has been appointed the new coach of Whitefriars in the suburban Amateurs competition.

GOLDEN Square was all tied up with the Hurst at three-quarter time after the Dragons had clawed back from an 11-point mid-third term deficit.

The Dogs made the early running in the final quarter booting the first two majors through Tom Toma and spearhead Dylan Johnstone, the only multiple goalkicker on the park.

Then the Hurst took over. Inaccuracy still reigned as their first three scores were behinds before Brodie Montague goaled from a scrimmage to cut the margin to just three points.

The clock showed 2:30 left to play.

Teenager Rourke Turner took a set shot tucked on the boundary line in a pocket but his check-side shot missed and the Dragons were cooked.

Square had fine defenders in Jonathan Coe, Clayton Anderson and Brayden Dorrington with co-captain Dorrington playing the game out after dislocating a shoulder in the opening minutes.

Joel ‘Skinny’ Wharton was the pick of the Hurst with his run and leadership while big ruckman Tim Martin, under an injury cloud in the lead-up with a knee concern, again one of the Dragons’ best.

The grunt of co-captain Jack Geary was a highlight for the Bulldogs while Tom Toma’s pace through the midfield was telling.

Second semi-final

Eaglehawk        3.4      7.7      11.9      14.13 (97)

Strathfieldsaye 3.4      8.6      12.7      14.10 (94)

Goals – Eaglehawk Sean Williams 5, Ben McPhee 4, Riley Saunders 2, Matt Gretgrix, Brenton Conforti, Gedd Hommelhoff. Strathfieldsaye: Lachlan Sharp 6, Joshua Formosa 2, Harry Conway 2, Matt Harvey, Shannon Geary, Trent Donnan, Fergus Payne.

Best – Eaglehawk: Sean Williams (best afield), Gedd Hommelhoff, Riley Saunders, Josh Bowe, Tim Hill, Trent Bacon. S’saye: Jayden Donaldson, Joshua Formosa, Harry Conway, Lachlan Sharp, Sam Simmons, Kellan Smith.

First semi-final

Golden Square    0.2     3.7     5.11     7.13 (55)

Sandhurst           1.5     1.8     5.11     6.15 (51)

Goals – G. Square: Dylan Johnstone 3, Adam Baird, Hamish Morcom, Jordan Rosengren, Thomas Toma. Sandhurst: Lee Coghlan, Andrew Collins, Tim Martin, Brodie Montague, Rourke Turner, Lachlan Ross.

Best – G. Square: Jack Geary (best afield), Jonathan Coe, Thomas Toma, Clayton Anderson, Matt Compston, Dylan Johnstone. Sandhurst: Joel Wharton, Tim Martin, Lachlan Ross, Pascale Craig, Andrew Collins, Hamish Leahy.

Goalkicking: Lachlan Sharp (S’saye) 6, 131; Ben Weightman (Kyneton) -, 96; Matt Gretgrix (E’hawk) 1, 69.

A grade netball scores: Sandhurst 61 d Golden Square 52 (second semi-final); Gisborne 51 d Kangaroo Flat 38 (first semi-final).

So last year’s A grade netball premiers the Flat are finished for this year.

This week’s preliminary finals: Strathfieldsaye v Golden Square.

A grade netball: Golden Square v Gisborne.

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