Wolves hold off Sharks in thriller preliminary
Minor premiers the Wickham Wolves have made it through to the North Pilbara Football League grand final after surviving a formidable challenge from the Dampier Sharks in their preliminary on Saturday night.
Momentum swung both ways throughout the intense and rapid-fire match at Wickham Oval, which the Wolves only won by six points after a Sharks onslaught in the final quarter came close to causing the upset of the season.
In a sign Wolves players had learnt from their mistakes in the previous week’s semi-final against Karratha Kats, in which the team didn’t score a goal until late in the second term, Wickham’s players peppered the goals in the first quarter to gain a 25 point early lead over Sharks.
Dampier responded in the second term by stepping up their scoring efforts and the overall intensity of the game.
Dominating play for much of the period, the Sharks surged forward time and again in a bid to score, but were cost dearly by inaccurate kicking that left them with only 2.6 for the term to Wolves’ one goal.
The momentum swung back Wickham’s way in the third term as the home side put in some skilful play to add another 4.2 to their tally, most of which came off the boot of star forward Nelson Ansey, while the Sharks lagged with 1.3
But just when a win looked unlikely for the Sharks, the team lifted in the final term and fought back to deliver a thriller finish.
Buoyed by an opening goal from Shane McIntosh, Dampier found a way to force turnovers and kick a barrage of goals when it counted and with two minutes remaining narrowed the margin to six points — but the Wolves held on just long enough to keep their lead and get the win.
The final score was 10.7 (67) to 8.13 (61) to Wickham.
Wolves league coach Glen Higgins said the wind had been tricky throughout the match, creating a scoring end on one side of the field.
“We really wanted to get away to a good start and we did that, but Dampier are a good side and they came back pretty hard,” he said.
“When you’re playing for a grand final it’s always going to come down to the wire.”
He said the Kats were a very good side and the Wolves would have to be “switched on for the start and play our game” to beat them in what was sure to be a “ripper”.
The NPFL grand final between Wolves and Kats will be played at 6.45pm this Saturday at Millars Well Oval.
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