Kats and Falcons head to Hedland
Karratha Kats have made the grand final after defeating the Wickham Wolves in an electrifying preliminary final that left everyone guessing the result until the end.
In a physical, fast and even match, the scores were drawn at three-quarter time and it all came down to some crucial decisionmaking in the dying minutes, with the Kats managing to inch ahead by 10 points, 9.8 (62) to 8.4 (52).
It was a shock loss for minor premiers Wolves, who have been in top form all season and have not previously lost to the Kats, but struggled to make the most of their opportunities.
In contrast, the Kats were focused and played strategically when it counted to hold on and claim the win.
Wolves also suffered from the loss of star forward Jarrod Cross to injury.
The first quarter was a dogged, physical and even term in which neither team looked dominant, making clear it was going to be a tight game.
Kats asserted themselves in attack in a strong second quarter, though, and fired off a series of goals as Wolves missed some clear chances.
By half-time, Kats had managed to create a buffer of a few goals and the psyhological ascendancy at 5.3 (33) to 3.1 (19).
But Wickham came in looking refreshed, faster and sharper in the third quarter and ready to demonstrate the strong offensive playing style that has characterised their season.
Outrunning the Kats for much of the term and making more of their scoring opportunities, the home side made a well-timed impact on the scoreboard, leading to a 6.3 (39) each tie at three-quarter time and the final result anyone’s guess.
The high-stakes final quarter was tense and physical as both sides tussled to wrest whatever edge they could.
Wickham especially were chipping away in their forward 50 and it looked only a matter of time until they scored, but a series of missed chances cost them dearly.
The Kats capitalised and scored with about five minutes remaining, before Wickham answered with a major of their own soon after. But it was Karratha who remained four points up with two minutes to go.
Both teams tried desperately to kick one more to decide the game, and it was Kats captain Sam Hughes who broke away and scored to seal a 10-point win for his team with only four seconds of play remaining.
It sent the rest of the Kats running on to the field to celebrate as Wickham players and fans were left crushed after coming so close.
The Kats will play the South Hedland Swans in the grand final at South Hedland’s Kevin Scott Oval at 6.45pm Saturday.
Kats' Harrison Featonby outruns Wolves' Brooke Ball.
Kats' Sam Hughes takes a mark under pressure from Wolves' Lochie Smith..
Kats' Sam Hughes catches up to Wolves' Cheyne Tetlo.