‘HAWKS SWOOP ON PIGEONS IN DRAMATIC FINISH………’

The packed throng which congregates on the balcony of the J.W.Maroney Pavilion and barracks raucously for the Brown and Gold, is unusually subdued during the three-quarter time break today.

They’ve just seen the Rovers picked apart by a systematic Yarrawonga combination, which has sped to a seemingly impregnable 38-point lead in the O & M’s match of the day.

The Pigeons took maximum advantage of the breeze, and left their opponents flat-footed, and out-of-sorts……….. only the most supreme optimist would give the Hawks a ghost’s chance of pulling off an against-the-odds victory from here…..

Leigh Masters, Ryan Bruce and Beau Seymour have been repelling everything in defence, Willie Wheeler is ever-dangerous; Tim Lawrence has bobbed up with three of Yarra’s 10 goals and big men Lachie Howe and Brandon Symes are in charge of the ruck duels.

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Things haven’t really gone to plan for the Hawks this week.

Two players were stricken with the dreaded Covid. Their absence has worked in Nick Henderson’s favour, as the long-serving defender has been presented with his first senior opportunity since 2018……..

Another vital link, Ryan Stone, twists his ankle in the warm-up, which necessitates dragging his late-replacement, Sam Allen, off the ground in the latter stages of the Reserves match.

And if you need anything more to go wrong, Jayden Bear, who’s also won promotion to the senior side, is ruled out of the game in its formative stages.

Even so, the first half had been a closely-fought, scrappy, fierce-tackling affair, riddled with errors and affected by the choppy breeze.

The Rovers trailed by three points at quarter-time; and by a straight goal at the long-break of a low-scoring encounter – 4.5 to 3.5……..Alas, the score-board looks a sorry sight at lemon-time – 10.8 to 4.6………

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Can coach Daryn Cresswell conjure some sort of a miracle to extract his charges from this mess ?………Can they gain the early momentum in the final term by banging on a couple of early goals ?………..Do they have the mind-set to ‘take on’ on the game, and wrest control of it from the Pigeons ?……….

‘Crezza’ elects to throw strong-marking Tom Boyd up forward, in an early indication that he’s intent on all-out attack. What an adaptable player the ex-Nathalia lad looks to be……

Raven Jolliffe is also sighted up forward, and almost from the first bounce of the final term the Hawks set about dictating the game, with the quartet of McQueen, Filo,Lukass Webb and Dylan Stone on fire in the midfield…….

Five minutes in, they nail the opening major, after an impressive link-up of Lenaz on to Gerrish to Filo, on to McQueen sees Tom Boyd convert from 25m out…….The difference is back to 31 points.

Boyd snaps his second at the 11 minute mark……..25 points the margin……A minute or so later, Stuart Booth breaks clear and appears to be riding a shot through……It veers left to shave the post….

Thankfully for the Pigeons, Leigh Masters and Beau Seymour are doing their best to stem the onslaught in their backline, but the dangerous Jake McQueen strikes another vital blow for the Hawks, as he slams another goal through……..They’re now 17 points down.

McQueen’s performances in the last fortnight have been out of the top-shelf…….and his penetrating kicking is a feature of his game.

Sam Murray is being tagged off the half back line, but has been the most influential player on the ground, with just on 30 possessions to date…..he plays on after hearing the umpire’s whistle for a free kick. His raking left-foot pass finds Tom Boyd. But from 45n out the big fellah misses……Will the Hawks rue these misses in the final wash-up of the game ?

The Pigeons, by now, appear to be treading water and trying to save the game……There is not one player in their forward half at this stage; the Hawks are doing all the attacking and the momentum has completely shifted in the Rovers’ favour.

Alex Marklew, who is displaying the aplomb and deftness of the class forward we’ve always expected him to become, side-steps a couple of opponents and boots his third for the game……and his side’s fourth in 11 minutes…….They now trail by just 10 points…..

Moments later, big Lachie Howe grabs the ball from the bounce on the Rovers forward line, but is caught in possession…….The resultant free kick to McQueen misses…….9 points the margin.

It’s McQueen again, as he marks a slightly astray kick out and lines up from 50 metres out. He finishes beautifully, leaving the margin just 3 points at the 22 minute mark.

The Hawks are on the charge….and the Balcony is in full cry…..They sense blood, and greet the goal of McQueen, who has quickly become a crowd favourite, with a deafening roar….

But when Marklew marks 15 metres out, two minutes later, they almost bring the roof down…..

Alex kicks truly…….It’s his fourth – and the Hawks’ sixth on the trot. They have dominated the inside-50’s this quarter, booting 6.5 to nil………

24 minutes have now elapsed and they’ve hit the lead…….by just three points.

There’s just on three minutes remaining, but Yarra have time to launch a couple of attacking thrusts. They take the ball from deep in defence in particularly threateningly fashion, before Murray and Tristan Lenaz both contest the mark. Sam comes up with the pill….it puts the exclamation mark on an outstanding display.

In one last throw of the dice the Pigeons proceed forward again, but Dylan Stone intercepts with style, and sends the ball back out of danger…..

Seconds later the siren sounds, heralding a comeback of gigantic proportions……

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