MA­NUNDA HAWKS PUSH CROCS

But the hunters are now the hunted, says coach

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN coach Brad Cooper warned his side that this sea­son the Crocs, as reign­ing pre­miers, would be hunted by the good op­po­si­tion teams, he pon­dered how long it would take for his play­ers to take him se­ri­ously.

Af­ter last Satur­day night at Cazaly’s Sta­dium against Ma­nunda Hawks this re­al­ity should be em­bed­ded in the mind of ev­ery Croc.

The well-drilled Hawks em­ployed a fast run­ning, quick­ball-move­ment game plan that meant the Crocs were chal­lenged from the start. The Hawks ran the ball out of de­fence and dom­i­nated the early mid-field con­tests.

The Crocs’ at­tack­ing for­ays were of­ten stunted and the ten­dency for the Crocs’ on-ballers to miss tar­gets al­lowed the Hawks to re­bound with ease.

Dom­i­nat­ing the cen­tre con­tests, the Hawks de­served to be ahead at the main break, but their lack of a key for­ward meant the Crocs man­aged to scrounge a nar­row 7 point lead.

Re­fus­ing to ac­cept the un­avail­abil­ity of six star play­ers as an ex­cuse for the Crocs’ medi­ocre per­for­mance, a con­cerned Cooper tar­geted the Crocs’ mids and de­manded that they be ac­count­able for an op­po­nent when the Hawks had pos­ses­sion.

The qual­ity of the Hawks’ squad was on display and Cooper was quick to iden­tify po­si­tions where his Crocs were be­ing out-played. The sec­ond­half was a fur­ther arm-wres­tle with the gal­lant Crocs’ de­fence, led by De­clan Kelly, Sam Scally and Gavin Jacks, un­der con­stant pres­sure.

The nar­row mar­gin re­mained un­til the last quar­ter and­when fi­nally the Crocs es­tab­lished dom­i­nance over the tir­ing but much im­proved Hawks.

As Cooper’s side must surely now know, it will be a chal­leng­ing year for the Crocs as the good teams plot to take the ti­tle from them. For sea­son 2017 the hunters have be­come the hunted.

The fi­nal score of Crocs 14-10-94 to Ma­nunda Hawks 9-8-62 flat­tered the Port Dou­glas boys.

Pic­ture: BRETT PAS­COE

Crocs’ Matt Metcraft un­der pres­sure

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