Skip­per ends fi­nal home game on op­ti­mistic note

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON

RE­TIR­ING Townsville Black­hawks skip­per An­thony Mitchell says his team’s sea­son can still reach great heights de­spite suf­fer­ing a bit­ter­sweet home ground farewell on Satur­day.

The for­mer Cow­boys, Roost­ers and Par­ra­matta player played his last home game for the Black­hawks, which ended in a 24- 16 de­feat at the hands of PNG Hunters.

Mi t c h e l l ( p i c t u r e d ) again pro­vided much of the go­for­ward in the Black­hawks’ late game surge, but the ef­fort was in vain af­ter Townsville failed to find the killer blow.

Mitchell and fel­low in­au­gu­ral Black­hawks player Michael Parker- Wal­she, who is also re­tir­ing at sea­son’s end, were led out on to Jack Man­ski Oval with a po­lice es­cort and played their hearts out in the bruis­ing Queens­land Cup clas­sic.

They couldn’t get the fairy­tale farewell against the lad­der lead­ing Hunters, but Mitchell said his three sea­sons at the Black­hawks would hold fond mem­o­ries.

“It’s go­ing to be hard be­cause we have such a great sup­porter base here in Townsville and they re­ally do get be- hind us win, lose or draw,” he said.

“It’s the rea­son why we’re a suc­cess­ful club.

“It’s some­thing that I’ll miss, the whole bat­tle of it all, but wak­ing up to­mor­row feel­ing like a bus has hit me is some­thing I won’t miss.”

The Black­hawks are likely to make the top six and sneak into fi­nals de­spite Satur­day’s loss, al­though win­ning against Sun­shine Coast in a fort­night will be cru­cial to seal­ing that spot, and fin­ish­ing per­haps as high as fifth.

The higher the Black­hawks fin­ish, the more likely their prospects of avoid­ing a po­ten­tial visit to Port Moresby, al­though Mitchell be­lieves the Black­hawks still can beat PNG.

“I think so. We were there for big pe­ri­ods of the game,” he said. “It was just lit­tle lapses that you can’t give teams like that, they com­pete hard for the 80 min­utes and un­for­tu­nately we didn’t in lit­tle spots.”

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