Hawks thrilling victory over Karuah Roos sees them into Rugby League Grand Final

Bills could not be caught, scoring the Hawks’ first two tries.

THE fourth and final ‘local derby’ of the year saw Karuah and the Hawks meet as equals, with no home-ground advantage to either side this time in this hyper-dramatic seasonal conclusion.

Both teams should be congratulated on their sensational performances, rising to the penultimate match of 2023, the real shame being that this was not the actual Grand Final.

Hawks quickly established dominance, keeping the ball on the Roos’ half, but Karuah’s O’Bryan was characteristically slippery in defence, while Hawks’ Napier took four opponents to bring down.

The first score was a two-pointer kick by Shaquiel Saunders, soon followed by Bills’ trademark lightning-strike up the left wing to make the first try.

After a tough Roos’ counter-offensive, Hawks’ swift passing put it into Simon’s hands for the next try.

Shaq Saunders broke away from the pack 30 metres out and sprinted it in, altering the score faster than the scoreboard could tick over, and easily self-converting.

Karuah attracted penalties like flies, under immense pressure to score, worsened by Bills’ second try.

Roos’ O’Neill finally scored before the break, but another penalty amid on-field confusion gave Saunders a second two-pointer kick.

The Roos tore the Hawks’ defence to tatters in the second half, demolishing their 20-point lead with successive tries to O’Bryan, Crampton and Evans, and Croese finding the post in the conversion.

Croese grounded a fifth Roos’ try himself, completing a gruelling score equalisation at 24-all, then the full-time siren sounded.

A season of games, three head-to-heads, and a full semi-final could not separate the two teams, even as they started on Golden Point overtime.

Both defences proved impregnable, each dragging the ball up and down the field, pummelling the other’s back lines.

In the surging adrenaline, one of many fumbles throughout the game awarded the Hawks a miraculous opportunity they wisely took.

Saunders’ magic boot sent the ball sailing true over the crossbar, and the Hawks’ fans erupted and screamed themselves to death as their team advanced to the Grand Final with overall score: 24-26.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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