Swans hold their nerve to end drought
■ The success-starved South Hedland Swans have claimed a hardfought 25-point grand final win over the Dampier Sharks to end one of North Pilbara Football League’s longest premiership droughts.
Clutching a nine-point lead midway into the last term, Swans coach Troy Melville admitted to sweating on the final siren as his club closed in on its first premiership in 19 years with a 13.19 (97) to 10.12 (72) victory.
“When you have got so much riding on each goal and play it does get a bit nervy,” he confessed.
“I had someone keeping the time behind me and it was the longest five minutes I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Yet once the siren sounded and the huge home crowd erupted with joy, Melville described the experience as humbling. He said the club’s ties to the community were stronger than he ever imagined.
“We told the boys about the many messages of support we received, about the past players flying in (to watch the game) … and even people overseas sending messages of support,” he said.
“You don’t realise how many people in the community really follow the Swans — it says a lot about the club.”
For the Sharks, the loss marked a disappointing end to a promising season after they finished on top of the ladder as minor premiers.
However, predicting they would again be contenders in 2016, Melville applauded them for fighting until the final siren.
Earlier, the Swans charged out of the gates as they bounced out to an almost 20-point lead before the Sharks fought back to end the quarter just nine points down.
The arm wrestle continued in the second and third terms as the sides played in contrasting styles.
While the Swans dominated possession, using their defensive zone to lock the ball in their forward 50, the Sharks were effective at scoring on the rebound.
Costly misses in front of goal and even costlier turnovers in their backline during the third term meant the Swans again took only a nine-point lead into the final quarter.
Yet despite the turnovers, Melville remained upbeat.
Acknowledging that grand finals were quicker and the perceived pressure greater, he praised his team for sticking to its game plan.
That discipline then shone through in the last term as the Swans kicked a series of clutch goals to take the game away from the Sharks.
Melville praised Sharks player Lewis Upton for pushing through the pain of a knee injury to lead his team.
“We had to put someone on him to mark him, because early on he set them up,” Melville said.
“For us, Josh Nannup did well on (Sharks’ gun forward) Guy Langdon.”
“Our three talls were also outstanding. The Sharks have a dominant ruckman, who arguably beat our guys in the semifinal, so (Alex) Frawnfezter (Malcolm) Anderson were great in the ruck and Kurtis Geary took a big clutch of contested grabs at centre-half-back.”
Up forward big Steele Viti led the way for the Swans, booting three goals, while Jesse Simpson, Curtley Mow and Anthony Kyanga added two each.
For the Sharks, Edward Huddlestone kicked four, while Jason Cox added two.
Swans player Curtley Mow holds two precious bundles, daughter Latiah, 1, and the 2015 North Pilbara Football League premiership. The Swans celebrated long and hard with family and friends after ending one of the league’s longest premiership droughts.
The Swans make a desperate spoil against Sharks forward Edward Huddlestone.
Swans player Josh Nannup claims Blake Sims from the Sharks without the ball.
Sharks player Blake Sims can’t stop the Swans dashing out of defence.