Wolves break through

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

Wick­ham Wolves won the North Pil­bara Foot­ball League premier­ship for the first time on Satur­day while Kar­ratha Kats pre­vailed in the re­serves fi­nal.

There was ju­bi­la­tion among the packed crowd on Wick­ham Oval on Satur­day when home side, Wick­ham Wolves, broke their league premier­ship drought and claimed their first flag in North Pil­bara Foot­ball League his­tory with a 25point de­feat over Dampier Sharks.

Out­last­ing a fight­ing Sharks side and a tight con­test in the first half, the Wolves broke away in the third term and never looked back on their way to record­ing a 12.13 (85) to 9.6 (60) vic­tory.

It was an his­toric mo­ment for a club that was un­til now the only one to have never won the flag in the top league di­vi­sion, with their last ti­tle be­ing un­der the old West Pil­bara Foot­ball League code in 1976.

Wolves pres­i­dent Paul Lott said the oc­ca­sion had been been decades in the mak­ing and would serve to gal­vanise every­one in­volved with the club.

“We’ve had our chances be­fore, like six or seven grand fi­nals, but not enough to win them on the day,” he said.

“This is go­ing to go a long way to ce­ment foot­ball in Wick­ham and I’m pretty sure that the boys will want to go back-to-back while they’ve got this good team.”

Wolves were the favourites to take the 2017 league premier­ship af­ter a stel­lar sea­son in which they only dropped one game, a loss to Kar­ratha Kats in round two, and fin­ished on top of the lad­der.

How­ever, threats from the build­ing Sharks side, the skil­ful Kats and a mon­key on the young team’s backs af­ter a close last-gasp semi­fi­nal loss last year all raised some doubt about whether they could get the job done and claim the tro­phy.

But the Wolves held their fo­cus and made sure this year they got the job done.

Both sides were fe­ro­cious right out of the gate and pres­sure was tight in the first quar­ter as both tus­sled to get a lead, though Wolves looked to be the dom­i­nant team.

They did enough to lead 4.2 (26) to 2.2 (14) at the end of the first quar­ter.

The Sharks were not about to let their op­po­nents get away, though, and the se­cond quar­ter was a nail­biter as they fought back hard.

Tak­ing more scor­ing chances, sev­eral Sharks shots went through and they drew even with Wolves late in the term.

Wick­ham scored another goal be­fore the half time, but it meant there was only a seven-point mar­gin, with Wolves ahead 5.4 (34) to 4.3 (27).

The third term proved the de­cider. Wolves came back fresh from the break and both teams set­tled in and found a way to play their fast, ag­gre­sive style of foot­ball.

It pro­duced in­stant re­sults as Wolves kicked another 3.5 while Sharks were held to two points for the term, putting Wick­ham 28 points in front at the third break.

A suc­ces­sion of three goals for the Wolves in the open­ing min­utes of the fi­nal term were the nail in the cof­fin for the Sharks, and had play­ers and fans sens­ing their first premier­ship was in their grasp.

Wolves’ pres­sure slipped some­what as the clock ticked down and Sharks dom­i­nated play in the fi­nal few min­utes, kick­ing 5.1 to re­duce the mar­gin to 25 points be­fore the siren sounded.

But by then the re­sults were in and the fi­nal win was the Wolves’.

Wick­ham skip­per Tim Ren­ton said it had been a hard-fought game, es­pe­cially in the first half, but they had seen the writ­ing on the wall af­ter gain­ing con­trol of the game in the third quar­ter.

“It was su­per phys­i­cal, it was hard, there wasn’t much (that was) easy pos­ses­sion-wise,” he said.

“But I think in that third quar­ter we were able to play our style a lit­tle bit which broke the game open, and then it was just con­fi­dence from then.”

At pre­sen­ta­tions af­ter the game, Wolves’ mid­fielder Ash­ley Grove was awarded the Pratt Medal for best on ground be­fore coach Richard Coates thanked play­ers, fans and of­fi­cials for their in­volve­ment.

Lott praised play­ers for their year-long com­mit­ment to play­ing a great sea­son and sin­gled out Grove, Cheyne Tetlo, Jack Kay, Claude Tay­lor, Jar­rod Cross and Ren­ton for spe­cial men­tion.

Wolves’ full-for­ward Cross made a good im­pres­sion on the score­board, kick­ing four goals for the win­ning side.

Team­mate Claude Tay­lor, the league’s top goal-kicker, scored two.

David Wal­ley and Deon Alec were mul­ti­ple goal-scor­ers for the Sharks, with three and two apiece.

Sharks league coach Beau Mc­Don­ald said it had been a tough loss for his team, mainly due to a slump in the third quar­ter, but praised his team for putting up a good con­test and con­grat­u­lated Wick­ham on the win.

Pic­tures: Ali­cia Per­era

Wolves' Ash­ley Grove, the Pratt Medal win­ner, tack­les the Sharks' Mor­ris Cop­pin.

Wolves' Jar­rod Cross reaches for a mark. Cross fin­ished with four goals.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.