Glory for Hawken’s heroes in Heathcote District grand final

VICTORS: Leitchville-Gunbower coach Matt Hawken and captain Daniel Couwenberg hold the cup.
VICTORS: Leitchville-Gunbower coach Matt Hawken and captain Daniel Couwenberg hold the cup.

LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER coach Matt Hawken couldn’t help but flash back to his nightmare memories of the last quarter of the Heathcote District league grand final two years ago.

The Bombers kicked 1.7 in the final quarter against North Bendigo that day in what was a 10-point loss.

During the second quarter of Saturday’s grand final – the third in a row between the two rivals – the Bombers again wasted opportunities, at one stage kicking eight behinds in a row and squandering a golden chance to turn the screws on the Bulldogs.

“It took me back to the last quarter a couple of years ago when we missed all those chances, but the good thing was we created plenty of opportunities and we were finally able to take them,” Hawken said.

After their eight behinds in a row that took their score from 4.2 to 4.10, the Bombers found their radar inside 50, kicking the last three goals of the second quarter through best-on-ground Tim Lincoln (two) and speedster Mitch Bruns in the final six minutes to build a 16-point advantage at half-time, 7.10 to 5.6.

CLASS: Leitchville-Gunbower star forward Matt Perri kicked six goals, including the Bombers' first four of the match.

CLASS: Leitchville-Gunbower star forward Matt Perri kicked six goals, including the Bombers' first four of the match.

In the end the Bombers had generated 33 scoring shots to 22 to finish 26-point victors over the Bulldogs, 15.18 (108) to 12.10 (82).

The win was sweet revenge for the Bombers, who had lost the previous two grand finals to North Bendigo.

CLEARING KICK: Leitchville-Gunbower's Mitch Bruns gets boot to ball ahead of North Bendigo's Rhys Ford.

CLEARING KICK: Leitchville-Gunbower's Mitch Bruns gets boot to ball ahead of North Bendigo's Rhys Ford.

“It makes all the hard work worth it, that’s for sure,” said Hawken, who returned as Leitchville-Gunbower coach in 2015 having previously led the club from 2003 to 2009.

“It felt like we were on top in the contest for a lot of the day today and then Coatesy (Daniel Coates) lit us up in the last quarter.

“To get another 10 goals today from Coatesy (four) and Matt Perri (six)… North is such a well-organised backline and we were able to take them out of their comfort zone.”

The win was the the Bombers’ third over the Bulldogs – who had started the season as the red-hot favourites to make it three flags on the trot – in their four 2017 meetings.

The Bombers’ premiership success wasn’t confined to just the seniors, with their under-17s – who ended the home and away season fifth – also winning a flag.

The Bombers’ under-17s were coached by Joel Donehue and assisted by Matt Pollock, who also played in the senior win.

“It was a great day for the club… to have two teams in for two wins, I couldn’t be more proud,” Hawken said.

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