Wick­ham in with a chance af­ter vic­tory

Pilbara News - - Sport - ■ Ben Leahy

Wick­ham Wolves have kept their premier­ship hopes alive with a hard fought 19-point vic­tory over Port Hed­land Rovers in a thrilling North Pil­bara Football League semi­fi­nal last week­end.

Play­ing at home, the Wolves with­stood a last quar­ter Rovers’ fight back to win 10.10 (70) to 7.9 (51).

Wolves pres­i­dent Paul Lott said although it was not the most skil­ful game, it was played hard.

“Both teams were down on strength a lit­tle bit, I would say, Rovers es­pe­cially, but it was hard fought and phys­i­cal footy,” he said.

“Wick­ham had that home ground ad­van­tage and used the ball bet­ter and kicked to get the goals they needed.

“But all credit to the Rovers; they fought it out in the last quar­ter and it was a fairly even last term.”

The gritty win keeps the Wolves’ grand fi­nal hopes alive as they meet the Dampier Sharks next week in a do-or-die pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal with the win­ner to then meet the South Hed­land Swans in the big dance.

The as­sign­ment will not be easy for the Wolves as both the Sharks and Swans had emerged as the clearly dom­i­nant sides in the last weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

For the Rovers the loss ends a dif­fi­cult and dis­ap­point­ing year.

Hav­ing dom­i­nated the NPFL in re­cent sea­sons, the Rovers were last year’s form side, be­fore slip­ping up in the grand fi­nal and fin­ish­ing run­ners-up.

This year the team has strug­gled to put its best team on the park, los­ing play­ers to the min­ing sec­tor down­turn and work com­mit­ments.

That showed early in their clash with the Wolves who jumped out of the gates to take a handy five goal lead into half­time, as they scored 7.5 (49) to the Rovers’ 2.5 (17) for a 39 point lead.

By the end of the third term the mar­gin was still 32 points.

But in a last quar­ter charge, the Rovers gave the Wolves a mini-scare as they added four goals to the Wolves’ one, though not enough to steal the vic­tory.

Lott praised Wolves’ cen­tre­man Mitch Barnes-But­ler for his play around the ground as well as Tim Renton, Cameron Cross and for­ward Beau Alec, who booted four goals.

How­ever, Lott is keenly aware of the chal­lenges ahead.

“Ob­vi­ously we are go­ing to have to play at our best for four quar­ters to match Dampier and then get a crack at the Swans,” he said.

“But with a few games to go in the sea­son, we thought we might be strug­gling to make the fi­nals and then good con­sis­tent form got us into third sport with a crack at Dampier.

“So we’re happy where we are at the mo­ment.”

De Krui­jff Pic­ture: Peter

Wick­ham Wolves’ for­ward and NPFL lead­ing goal scorer Beau Alec tries to take the con­tested mark.

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