Birds of prey to battle it out
The surging Narrogin Hawks will face the Boddington Eagles in Kukerin on Sunday in the Upper Great Southern Football League grand final, after they pulled off a thrilling three-point win over Wickepin.
The minor premiers held Narrogin goalless during the final term of Sunday’s preliminary final at Clayton Road Oval, but were unable to hit the lead after being on the back foot all day.
Kaine Riley and Perrin Quartermaine inspired the Hawks, leading their side to a 6.13 (49) to 6.10 (46) victory.
In challenging conditions, Warrior Jordan Flavel kicked the match’s first goal, booting the ball from outside 50m and watching it dribble through after beating a pack 30m from the goal line.
Flavel’s wing battle with Jack Lambert was one of the most tantalising match-ups of the first term, with both players having plenty of impact early.
Hawks defender Bradley Timms did not give a threatening Luke Crouch an inch during the first term in Wickepin’s forward line.
Timms, along with Riley, plucked plenty of intercept marks across half-back, while Jack Hilder snagged the Hawks’ first major from a set shot 45m out.
Narrogin’s midfield started to take control after Hilder evened the scoreboard, assisted by a dominant Hawks’ half-back line led by Riley, Timms and Nathan Ugle.
Jack Walsh gave Narrogin the lead with a goal, receiving an inside-50 pass from Isaiah Jetta-Bolton. The Hawks’ led 2.5 (17) to 1.3 (9) at quarter-time. Timms was taken from the field early in the second term after a heavy front-on collision.
Shortly after, Crouch reduced Wickepin’s deficit to two points with a goal, taking a strong contested mark from a Jayden Schofield pass.
Ralph Kickett soon responded for the Hawks, finding the goals from nowhere with a round-the-body snap from the boundary line.
Taking a string of pack marks, Quartermaine’s influence continued to grow.
His tap work around the ground gave Ryan Gray and Kyle Mead plenty to work with, however, the Hawks’ could not capitalise in front of goals. Kickett finally found the goals, booting his second and Narrogin's fourth for the day after being set up by Gray to give the Hawks a 17-point lead.
Mason Hill was eventually rewarded for his immense physical presence around the ground, kicking Narrogin’s fifth goal.
Aidan Omodei was doing all he could to keep Wickepin in the game, while a Jethro Duffy goal on the siren brought the game back to 17 points at half-time.
Wickepin’s intensity lifted after half-time with Omedei, Joel Gust, Anthony and Jayden Schofield pressing hard for their side.
But Narrogin relieved some of the pressure with the game’s best passage of play.
With a piercing kick, Ugle found the chest of Riley at half-back.
Riley found Nick Miller high in Narrogin’s forward line, who then split the Warriors half-back line to give Hill his second goal for the afternoon.
Mead, Matthew Abraham, Riley, Quartermaine and Jetta-Bolton led the Hawks during the third term, as the Warriors struggled under the pressure around the contest.
Wickepin were held goalless for the quarter, giving Narrogin a 22-point lead at the last break.
With their season on the line, Wickepin found another gear in the fourth term, led by Schofield and Anthony.
Jaxon Ramsay kicked a goal almost immediately, after Crouch marked and sent the ball inside-50.
Anthony soon found Wickepin’s fifth major before Kim Schofield brought the game to one point with a goal of his own.
It was the last goal of the day, however, as the match escalated into an exchange of forward surges suppressed by desperate defending.
Jetta-Bolton, Lambert, Gray and Mead were the Hawks’ best with Riley and Quartermaine.
Ryan Melvin, Omodei, Flavel, Anthony and Gust led Wickepin while Fraser Wittwer was strong in defence under enormous pressure.
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