Sharks dig deep to beat Rovers in semi-final match
Dampier Sharks have made it through to the second round of finals after taking a bite out of the Port Hedland Rovers on Saturday, taking the bulldogs down by 11 points.
The do-or-die semifinal for Sharks and Rovers, who finished the regular season ranked third and fourth respectively, was an intense and hard-fought game at Windy Ridge Oval between two teams that have been neck-and-neck all season.
Before the game, a hushed silence fell as players, officials and spectators alike paused to pay tribute to late Sharks player Mitch Deacon, who died the previous week.
A moving poem to Deacon’s memory was read out and the crowd observed a minute’s silence.
The intensity was high and the first term was even with both sides scoring several goals apiece.
But the second quarter belonged to the Sharks, with Dampier’s players running hard and relentlessly pushing forward to score 4.4 in a stellar term.
Rovers responded with 1.2 of their own, leading to a 24-point margin between the sides at half-time.
In the third term Port Hedland turned the tables of their opponents and came storming back.
Rovers scored 4.5 over the quarter while holding the Sharks to a point, sending them to a four-point lead and setting the stage for a close final term.
The quarter began with another even contest, both teams scoring a goal apiece, before the ball became locked up in the midfield.
It was only late in the quarter that the Sharks found a way through Rovers’ defensive line and kicked two more goals just minutes before the final siren, to the delight of fans.
The final score was 10.10 (70) to 8.11 (59) to Sharks.
Dampier had a long list of goal kickers while for the Rovers Ashley Mulhall (four goals) and Tyson Pickett (two) were the biggest contributors.
Sharks will face Wickham Wolves in round two of the finals next weekend, while Rovers’ season is over.
Dampier league coach Steven Dodd said the Sharks had been determined to get the win for Deacon.
“The emotional side of things was what we wanted to draw on in the game but obviously just because (there is an) emotional side of things doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job done,” he said.
“They challenged us all day and to the boys’ credit they steeled themselves ... but (I’m) really proud of the efforts of the boys in such a tough week for the football club, and hopefully we can keep drawing on that over the coming weeks and really hit Wickham with everything that we’ve got this week.”
The Sharks play Wickham at 6.45pm on Saturday at Wickham Oval.
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