Jit­tery Swans held to draw in derby

Pilbara News - - PIL­BARA SPORT - Ben Leahy

Footy fans roared their sup­port for Hed­land’s two teams on Satur­day night as they played out a thrilling draw in the North Pil­bara Foot­ball League’s derby clash.

The un­der­dog Port Hed­land Rovers sur­prised their more fan­cied South Hed­land Swans ri­vals by jump­ing out to an early lead in the first term.

Forced to chase all night, the Swans man­aged to level the scores only af­ter big for­ward Steele Viti kicked truly from 20m min­utes be­fore the fi­nal siren to tie the game on 98 points apiece — Rovers 15.8 to Swans 14.14.

South Hed­land coach Troy Melville said the game had been a hard-fought, see­saw­ing con­test.

“It was a hard game to read. At dif­fer­ent points we looked on top and ready to take the game away and at other times the Rovers were well on top,” he said.

“It was good the boys ral­lied at the end to level it up.”

“A draw and two points is bet­ter than a loss and no points.”

The tied game con­tin­ues what has been a jit­tery five weeks for the Swans, who have now dropped two games and tied one af­ter ear­lier go­ing through the open­ing eight rounds un­de­feated.

They now sit sec­ond on the lad­der to the Wick­ham Wolves.

While dis­ap­pointed not to win, the Rovers can take took con­fi­dence from match­ing it with their lead­ing NPFL foes.

Ear­lier, Rovers coach Greg Mas­trangelo com­pleted a coach­ing master stroke by open­ing the game with Brad Hors­man deep in the for­ward line.

Prov­ing a mis­match for his Swans op­po­nents, Hors­man was in ev­ery­thing early, pulling down spec­tac­u­lar marks and even snap­ping a goal on his wrong foot, as he ended the first quar­ter with four ma­jors.

It helped inspire the Rovers to a 6.1 (37) to the Swans 4.3 (27) first term lead.

The pat­tern con­tin­ued into the sec­ond quar­ter as the Rovers were able to take greater ad­van­tage of their for­ward-50 for­ays to main­tain their 10-point ad­van­tage at half-time.

With de­fen­sive gen­er­als Josh Nan­nup and Kur­tis Geary help­ing to re­group the Swans back line, the third quar­ter proved an arm wres­tle. With the Rovers strug­gling to hit the score­board, their South Hed­land ri­vals closed to within three points.

In a des­per­ate last quar­ter, the Rovers once again kicked away to a handy lead as mid­fielder Michael Lake­man kept get­ting his hands on the ball in his 100th game.

How­ever, Swans fought back, cul­mi­nat­ing with Viti’s thrilling equaliser min­utes be­fore the siren.

Viti proved a for­ward fo­cal point all day for the Swans, boot­ing five goals, while Melville praised fel­low for­ward and ruck­man Mal­colm An­der­son for kick­ing three and try­ing hard all day.

Melville also gave Luke Raf­ferty credit for his abil­ity to fill in holes around the ground af­ter the Swans lost key play­ers to in­jury.

Hors­man led the way early for the Rovers with four goals, while Lake­man and Michael Egan each booted three.

In the re­serves, the Rovers ran out 13.7 (85) to 8.7 (55) win­ners.

Pic­tures: Ben Leahy

A ram­pag­ing Brad Hors­man takes a strong mark for Rovers.

Swans de­fend­ers clear the ball.

Swans pile on Brad Hors­man.

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