SANDGATE head into this year’s finals series with major question marks hanging over their heads after avoiding a massive upset away to Maroochy-Northshore on Saturday.
By Terry Wilson
Their engine clearly spluttering after losses against Palm Beach-Currumbin and Noosa, the Hawks had to dig deep to escape Fisherman’s Road with an 18.14 (122) to 18.4 (112) win.
And captain-coach Ben Long was quick to acknowledge the Hawks ‘got out of jail’ against a side that has won just once this season and who fielded only 21 players on the day – two of them who had earlier played half a game in the reserves – and who also lost two injured players before half-time.
As much as the Roos have to be praised for their gutsy effort against the odds, the result highlighted Sandgate’s fall from possible minor premiers to a likely appearance in an elimination final.
Asked if wobbly was a good word to describe Sandgate’s situation, Long said: “I suppose on results you could put a case towards that.
“Before Saturday I was praying for an upset in other matches, but it almost ended up with us as the upset.
“Maroochy certainly put it to us – and I don’t know if they put it all together just for us.”
Long said a realistic scenario for the Hawks, given they have next weekend’s round 18 bye, is to finish fourth or fifth, the latter an away final against Palm Beach-Currumbin now a distinct possibility.
“To get third spot we need the Magpies and Wilston-Grange to lose next weekend,” he said.
“If that happens and Palmy (Palm beach-Currumbin) win, they’d be second and we’d be third – then we’d still be playing them down there in a qualifying final.”
But back to the chase, and the Hawks do have problems, not only with injury.
Long said the difference, when Maroochy shot to a 10-point lead with six minutes to go, came from a few class Hawks who stood up.
He said Josh Walker, Ben Drew and Damien Garton all lifted when they had to to get the Hawks over the line.
Maroochy were desperately unlucky, despite having only 22 scoring shots to 32.
A losing culture can eat into players’ psyche and this appeared the case on Saturday, if you listen to coach Roger Delaney.
“We probably didn’t know how to ice the game,” said Delaney. “We’re 10 points up, we had the ball but turned it over trying to get in into the corridor rather than keep it out wide.
“But it was our best effort of the year. We try hard each week yet this time the effort was pretty much over four quarters.”
Quality rover Ben Drew was best for Sandgate, who trailed by nine points at quarter-time and by 10 points at half-time.
Also good for the Hawks were ruckman Michael Pettit, super veteran Dan Dickfos up front and on-baller David Scott.
For Maroochy, on-ballers Jarrod Gale, Kane Tyson and Declan Magill, along with centre half-forward Peter Hay, stood out among a team of wholehearted triers.