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Inverleigh produced a remarkable comeback against the Eagles to storm into the preliminary final.

 

In the shadows of the first half the Hawks trailed by 50 points and were staring down the barrel of a

straight sets finals exit before responding with 13 of the final 15 goals. Coach Mark McDowell was

elated with the character shown by the group and gave an insight to the turnaround after half-time.

 

“It was just character. Their character was tested and thoroughly tested and they needed to dig

deep and boy did they find it.” McDowell said.

 

“We really threw the shackles off at half-time, we go in (to the match) and we’ve all these plans ... I

said forget the whole lot, just play football.”

 

The stunning victory now sees the Hawks take on Bell Post Hill for a place in the Grand Final.

McDowell had no doubt that his side was capable of causing an upset with the confidence and

momentum it will draw from a scintillating second half. But a far better start would be crucial; an

area the club has struggled in of late, having lost its past four first quarters.

 

“We’ve got to get out of the block a bit better ... against Bell Post Hill if we let it get out to five goals

we’re not going to get back. We’ve got to try and flip that around, run off this momentum and get

out early and have them chasing us and doubting themselves.”

 

“Footy is about momentum and belief ... it’s just a matter of being sharp early then you get that

momentum and if they get that they’ll take a bit of catching.”

 

Blake Hutchinson was the match-winner with three vital goals in the final term, alongside dynamic

forward Ryan Garrard – the duo proved a handful. Michael Grozdanovski was influential in a number

of roles while Will Hamer and Rob Logue were strong contributors as they have been for much of the

season.

 

 It was the Eagles that got off to the perfect start with an emphatic first quarter display. With the aid

of the breeze it kicked 6.4 to 2.1 to put the young Hawks on the back foot.

 

It was more of the same in the second as East Geelong kicked four of the first five to open up a

commanding 50-point lead and the match looked to be heading one way.

 

The Hawks needed a spark and that came via Rob Logue who booted consecutive goals to begin the

second half and all of a sudden there was an Inverleigh pulse. As the goals continued to the flow the

young Hawks confidence snowballed. The 20-point three quarter-time Eagles buffer was looking

fragile.

 

That proved the case as East Geelong had no answer to the Hawks freewheeling football as the

margin quickly closed to seven points. Classy midfielder Blake Hutchinson switched forward to great

effect with two majors in quick succession, putting his side in front for the first time all day. There

was no looking back as Inverleigh streamed away to complete a formidable second half and book a

much-deserved spot in the preliminary final.

 

Daniel Short

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