Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLATTER trent. slatter@ news. com. au

HER­MIT Park has re­claimed top spot on the AFL Townsville lad­der with a gutsy fi­nal quar­ter to over­come Univer­sity 12.12 ( 84) to 7.6 ( 48) at Tony Ire­land Sta­dium.

The Tigers shot out of the blocks to lead 3.2 to 1.2 at quar­ter- time be­fore Univer­sity re­sponded with a huge 5.2 to 2.0 sec­ond term to grab the half­time lead.

Her­mit Park fought their way back in the third quar­ter, kick­ing 2.7 to 1.0, be­fore they blew the Hawks off the park in the fi­nal term.

Matthew McGrath led the way for the Tigers with three goals while Jar­ryd Gra­ham kicked two for Univer­sity.

Her­mit Park fin­ished the game with just two play­ers on their bench af­ter a cou­ple of in­juries in the third quar­ter, in­clud­ing Joel Sim who was stretchered off af­ter a heavy col­li­sion.

Tigers coach Jamie Fogg said he chal­lenged his play­ers to use those in­juries as mo­ti­va­tion as they looked to close out the game against the in­form Hawks.

“He showed great com­mit­ment to put his body on the line and I chal­lenged the guys to do the same,” Fogg said.

“If you can’t get up af­ter see­ing your team mate stretchered off then you have to ques­tion why you’re play­ing.

“It was a pretty scrappy, phys­i­cal game and turnovers were cost­ing us early, but we prob­a­bly just got away with it the last quar­ter.”

The mi­nor premier­ship race is now all but cer­tain to come down to the fi­nal round clash be­tween the Hawks and Tigers, with their headto- head hon­ours split at two wins each this sea­son.

Fogg felt there was still noth­ing be­tween the two sides de­spite Her­mit Park’s big win at the week­end and he said the in­ten­sity of the con­test was good prepa­ra­tion for their run to the fi­nals.

“We got away with a big win early in the year and they got us in a cou­ple of close ones,” Fogg said.

“The score­board prob­a­bly didn’t re­flect how close the game was ( on Sat­ur­day), but it was a fi­nals- type game which is good prepa­ra­tion for the next few weeks.”

Mean­while, the Curra Swans have fi­nally bro­ken their duck in 2017 with a hard- fought 9.6 ( 60) to 6.9 ( 45) vic­tory over the North­ern Beaches Suns at Mul­doon Oval.

The Swans were win­less in 13 matches this sea­son af­ter fail­ing to win a game at all last year, but they rose to the chal­lenge against the Suns.

North­ern Beaches were in front at the first change af­ter a tight 3.2 to 3.1 open­ing quar­ter be­fore Curra took con­trol in the sec­ond term, kick­ing 4.1 to 1.1 to lead by 17 at half­time.

The Swans could only man­age one mi­nor score in the third term as North­ern Beaches booted 2.6 to draw back level, but it was all Curra in the fi­nal term as they sealed a long- awaited vic­tory.

Jamie O’Don­nell kicked three goals for Curra while Michael Wren was best for the Suns with two.

GUTSY: Her­mit Park Tigers’ Josh An­drews looks to evade the Univer­sity Hawks de­fence. Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

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