AFTER a slow start to the season, the Inverell Hawks swooped in on the finals ,narrowly missing a major to host the minor tomorrow against the Armidale Rams at Varley Oval.
Both first grade and the U18s were robbed of a major spot in the final round, which was the lost round 10 from the referees’ strike.
Reserve grade didn’t miss out and will meet the Boomerangs tomorrow in Moree as the Hawks fly into the finals with three out of four sides still alive.
The Hawks have been tipped by many as the team that could push minor premiers the Boomerangs.
“The problem is getting there first,” club president Garry Lavender said.
“Armidale is a spoiling side with a big pack.”
The last time the Hawks butted heads with the Rams it was a 26-all draw.
“We held off them and gave them too much room last time.
“Our mindset is pretty good and we are pretty confident.”
For the first time this season the Hawks will have a full complement of fresh players on the bench.
The Hawks are looking to meet the big Rams pack up front and sting them with the backs.
Under coach Peter Stevens, the Hawks backline has been coming into its own in the back end of the season.
Halfback Tom Nelson returned to the game and club mid-season and slotted straight into the dangerous backline.
“Luke Thom is great on the other side and Moses Briggs is a defensive machine,” Lavender said.
“He can really sting them.”
Harold Duncan and Toddy Prince add that electric speed on the flanks that has become a trademark of the top Group 19 sides.
“We will take them on in the forwards,” Lavender said.
“Complete sets and lay a platform for the backs to finish.”
The president is also the U18s’ coach and two weeks ago thought he would be in Moree tomorrow in the major semi.
The Hawks were on top of the table going into the last game at Goondiwindi.
“The night before, I lost my halfback, hooker and second rower,” Lavender said.
“I only had one reserve and we went down 34-24.”
The juniors ladder is so tight that the loss dropped them to third, with only one point separating each of the top three sides.
“It will be a different story this week.”
“Mitch Lennon is back at halfback and we should be on the mark again.”
Gates will open at Varley Oval at 9am tomorrow morning, with Tingha and Ashford in the league tag.
The Hawks will play Goondi in the juniors before Goondi clash with Glen Innes in reserve grade with the main event kicking off at 2.30pm.