BFNL grand finalist – Eaglehawk

BFNL GRAND FINALIST – STRATHFIELDSAYE

EAGLEHAWK GRAND FINAL TRAINING | PHOTOS

EAGLEHAWK will carry its longest winning streak for 35 years into Saturday’s BFNL grand final against Strathfieldsaye at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.

The Hawks, who finished a game clear on top, have the momentum of 14 wins in a row in what’s their best stretch of victories since the 1982 premiership team won 16 on the trot.

Among the Hawks’ run of 14 straight wins are two against Saturday’s opponent, Strathfieldsaye, including a hard-fought three-point victory in the second semi-final a fortnight ago when they rallied from 30 points down during the second quarter.

Leading Eaglehawk into battle on Saturday will be first-year coach Josh Bowe, who has the chance to become the Hawks’ first premiership coach since Derrick Filo in 2008.

Only veterans Matt Gretgrix and captain Tim Hill from the last Hawks’ flag nine years ago will be lining up on Saturday, with both to play key roles at opposite ends of the ground.

Gretgrix, who missed five games in the second half of the season with a broken hand, is the Hawks’ leading goalkicker with 69, while Hill is the general of one of the most highly-regarded defences in the competition that only once in its 14 wins in a row has leaked more than 100 points.

Ben McPhee, who was equal third in the Michelsen Medal, Brodie Collins, Bowe and Jesse Collins have all had top seasons through the midfield for the Hawks, with McPhee having also been dangerous inside 50 with 38 goals.

From a team that made the preliminary final last year on the back of a stunning turnaround in the second half of the season, Sean Williams (35 goals) and the lively Riley Saunders (27) have both been valuable inclusions in attack this year, while the addition of the experienced Scott Hann off half-back and through the midfield has also helped take the Hawks to the next level.

The Hawks have the opportunity to complete the senior-reserves premiership double on Saturday.