Townsville Bulletin

Valiant ‘Hawks fly high


BLACKHAWKS coach David Elliott is adamant his side’s bruising semi-final win over Souths Logan Magpies should be all the inspiratio­n they need to go all the way to the decider.

The Hastings Deerings Colts side was reduced to 14 men early in the second half, but refused to wilt against a fast finishing Magpies.

For more than an hour of bruising rugby league action, the Blackhawks defence refused to be breached.

A late consolatio­n try for

Magpies winger Tyrone Harding was the only blemish on a defiant Blackhawks performanc­e who booked their spot in the Colts grand final preliminar­ies with a 26-6 victory.

But it could have come at a major cost, with the injury toll growing for the club.

Young forward Luke Jack could be a long shot to return for the preliminar­y final against Sunshine Coast Falcons after he failed to return from a concussion scare, while fullback Dylan White (hamstring) and Benn Campagnolo (hand) have almost certainly been ruled out of Sunday’s clash.

But still after a season of fighting against the odds and a long casualty list, Elliott has faith his side can dig deep and find another gear for next weekend’s preliminar­ies.

“It was a really gutsy performanc­e to finish with only 14 for that 30 minutes,” he said.

“I am tremendous­ly proud. I said it to the group afterwards that I don’t think they quite realised what they had done. The achievemen­t with playing with 14 blokes, we were literally rotating one middle forward.

“We were under the pump and have been under the pump, but the character of the individual­s and the group has been outstandin­g. I am pretty sure that was what got us through. We just kept turning up for each other.

“You want those young blokes to take in (what they achieved), they need to take a hell of a lot of belief and confidence out of it.”

Blackhawks utility Tom Chester was one of the side’s best after he started the game at lock before filling in at fullback with White off the field.

Elliott admitted it will be a difficult job replacing his injured brigade, but believed there was enough depth in the squad to come up with a competitiv­e outfit.

The Blackhawks returned to their Kirwan base yesterday for an afternoon of recovery, and Elliott said he would give the players the day off before returning to training on Wednesday.

“We have to get a team together that we know will go down and rip in like we have all year long,” he said.

“I think that is the way the group has been for the majority of the year. We have had some season ending injuries but the group has not once made an excuse. Every bloke we have brought into the group has contribute­d and added to what we believe in as a team.

“We never give up and we don’t have excuses in us.”

The Blackhawks will play the Falcons, who shocked Hasting Deerings Colts minor premiers Wynnum Manly in the opening weekend of the finals, on Sunday afternoon at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe.

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