Fi­nal time

Kats and Fal­cons head to Hed­land

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

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.

Pic­tures: Ali­cia Per­era

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.

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