Falcons fight hard to claim ti­tle thriller

Pilbara News - - Sport - Ben Leahy

Kar­ratha Falcons have up­set Wick­ham Wolves by six points to claim the North Pil­bara Football League’s re­serves premier­ship in one of the sea­son’s most thrilling games.

The Falcons made the Wolves pay for their in­ac­cu­rate kick­ing as they took con­trol of the game in a dour last quar­ter for an 8.6 (54) to 6.12 (48) vic­tory.

Falcons coach Cameron Ling said his team showed good old­fash­ioned grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion af­ter what had been a tough few years on the field.

“I’ve never been in such a gutsy win with the boys be­fore,” he said.

“We’ve gone through some changes and heartaches at the club and it’s taken its toll, so for the boys to stand up and fight like they did, I’m re­ally proud.”

The Falcons’ sur­prise win not only net­ted premier­ship glory but helped sal­vage what could oth­er­wise have been a dis­ap­point­ing year.

While the Falcons league side spent much of the year near the bot­tom of the lad­der, they im­proved late in the sea­son and blooded a lot of young play­ers.

Ling said that with the com­mit­tee, play­ing group and club devel­op­ing into a real strong unit, the Falcons’ fu­ture was bright.

For the Wolves, on the other hand, the loss marked a painful end to a sea­son that had promised so much.

Both the Wolves league and re­serves sides had fin­ished on top of the lad­der, but fell short in the pres­sure cooker of fi­nals football.

For the Wolves re­serves, that pres­sure ap­peared to show early in their grand fi­nal clash as they fell be­hind in the first quar­ter.

While they wres­tled the lead back in the sec­ond to go into half­time with a 13-point lead, the Wolves’ fail­ure to con­vert their chances as they kicked 5.8 to 4.1 meant the Falcons were well within reach.

With the Wolves con­tin­u­ing to spray their shots in the third term to boot 6.12, a de­ter­mined Falcons out­fit made the most of their chances to kick 7.4 and close to within two points.

The last term emerged as a dour, hard-fought tus­sle as both de­fences dom­i­nated play and skill er­rors go­ing for­ward made scor­ing dif­fi­cult.

With the Wolves kept score­less, it was only a mo­ment of bril­liance by Falcons for­ward David Ward, as he snapped a goal in heavy traf­fic, that even­tu­ally separated the two sides and se­cured the six-point vic­tory.

Coach Ling said the last nerver­ack­ing 20 min­utes of the game had felt like they lasted for an hour.

He paid credit to mid­field­ers Michael James and best-on­ground Tris­tan Sawyer for their work around the ground, while the win also made for a spe­cial send-off for re­tir­ing player Dean Lom­bardo.

Ward led the way on the score­board for the Falcons as he and James Van Hoof both kicked three goals, while Brett McCormack chipped in with two.

Ling paid trib­ute to the spirit of the Wolves play­ers and thanked ev­ery­one for their sup­port.

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