Shepparton News

Hawkins has spring in step

FINLEY STAR SHINES FOR GEELONG WITH FIVE GOALS AND SAYS HE’S LOVING HIS FOOTY RIGHT NOW

- By Tyler Maher

Familiar faces were on fire for their AFL clubs at the weekend, helping steer Geelong and the Western Bulldogs respective­ly into the preliminar­y finals.

Finley’s Tom Hawkins snared a bag of five majors for the Cats in a 35-point win over GWS on Friday night, spearheadi­ng his side’s charge towards a cut-throat clash against Melbourne.

Hawkins finished with 19 disposals, eight marks and two hit-outs in the triumph to dominate proceeding­s.

“I still feel confident each week that I can go out and perform at a high level,” Hawkins told Channel Nine on Sunday.

“I’m encouraged by the fact that our side is having success.

“I’ve had a good season this year and I still feel physically able to go and perform.

“To be honest, I’m loving playing football . . . when I’m not enjoying my football or I start to find it becomes a bit of a struggle is when I think time will be up for me.”

Cobram and Yarroweyah product Esava Ratugolea also managed 1.1 in the win, notching four hitouts along the way.

It was a tweak to Geelong’s structure which brought Ratugolea back into the line-up, with the extra height used to stretch the Giants in the air.

That extra tall will be even more important against the Demons.

Invergordo­n’s Lachie Ash was valiant in defeat for the Giants, securing 21 disposals and engineerin­g five tackles.

He also had an impressive 562m gained and five inside 50s in the loss.

Mooroopna’s Laitham Vandermeer was the man of the moment for the Bulldogs on Saturday night, scrambling the winning behind as his side defeated Brisbane by a point.

Vandermeer had 10 disposals and four tackles in the win, with fellow Goulburn Valley exports Alex Keath and Josh Schache also impressing.

Kialla’s Keath played every moment of the barn-burner, effecting four one percenters and compiling nine touches.

Seymour’s Schache — who burst back into the senior side as a defender, but has been used as a forward in the first fortnight of finals action — booted a goal among his 11 possession­s.

“I was really excited by it and just felt like it was a really big freshener for me,” Schache told AFL.com.au last week of his move to defence.

“I almost got addicted to trying to learn something new and it was definitely something that

gave me a bit of spark.

“Bevo (coach Luke Beveridge) floated the idea past me one day and it sounds cliched, but I said I’m happy to do whatever you guys want me to do.

“Along the way there’s been periods where you do doubt yourself and it can be hard, especially the last few years we’ve had with so much uncertaint­y.

“But I really think this year I’ve grown personally. Things didn’t work for me earlier in the year, but I think that’s made me a little bit stronger and more resilient in the way I go about it mentally and stick at it.

“I’ve stuck at it and knew an opportunit­y would come at some point and when it did I would be ready.”

The Bulldogs will take on Port

Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, with a spot in the grand final on the line.

In other news, Moama’s Lachie Schultz will be at Fremantle for at least another two seasons after signing a contract extension.

The small forward finished second on the Dockers’ goal-kicking table this season with 22 majors from 20 games, and will add to his 44 games over the next two campaigns.

“We’re very pleased to have Lachie commit to Fremantle for a further two seasons, he had a great year with 22 goals, continuing his growth since he arrived at Fremantle ahead of the 2019 season,” Freo executive general manager of football operations Peter Bell told fremantlef­c.com.au

“We were particular­ly impressed with his ability to work and fit in with our forward structure, as well as his efforts defensivel­y.

“Lachie has also selflessly agreed to remain on the rookie list as a part of his two-year contract extension, which allows us the opportunit­y to bring in another player onto our senior list during the upcoming draft and trade periods.”

Gold Coast held its Club Champion event on Sunday, and familiar names featured prominentl­y.

Shepparton’s Will Brodie was named VFL Player of the Year after securing, on average, more than 31 disposals and six tackles a game.

“In terms of Will’s attitude and the way he went about it each week, he was really consistent and committed to being the best footballer he could be for the team which is a credit to him,” Suns VFL head coach Tate Kaesler told

goldcoastf­c.com.au

“Will’s greatest strength is his explosiven­ess and ability to win the contest, but we were also really impressed with his ability to develop and improve his outside game and his defensive pressure.

“He was one of our most reliable players this year and responded to the challenges we threw his way, so is a worthy winner of the VFL Player of the Year.”

Kyabram’s Nick Holman polled well in the Club Champion award, finishing ninth despite only playing 16 matches this season.

The retiring Jarrod Harbrow was honoured on the night, with his Suns legacy to continue via the Community Award at the club.

From next season it will be known as the Jarrod Harbrow Community Award.

Hawthorn released five players from its list on Tuesday, with Mansfield’s James Cousins among them.

Cousins played 35 games for the Hawks, including 10 this season.

 ?? Picture: AAP ?? Farewelled: The Jarrod Harbrow Community Award will be coveted at the Gold Coast Suns from next season.
Picture: AAP Farewelled: The Jarrod Harbrow Community Award will be coveted at the Gold Coast Suns from next season.

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