Swans hold their nerve to end drought

Pilbara News - - Sport - Ben Leahy

■ 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.

Pic­tures: Ben Leahy

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.

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