WANGARATTA Rovers face a nervous wait after star forward Daniel Archer was reported in yesterday’s eight-point loss to Wangaratta.
In what was the biggest turning point in the game, the former St Kilda forward was yellow carded and sent from the ground 13 minutes into the second quarter for an alleged strike on Matt Hedin during a fiery scuffle.
Archer was dominant while he was on the ground and booted two vital goals when he returned late in the third term as the Hawks charged back into contention with four goals in the space of six minutes.
The Pies had charged to a game-high lead of 27 points while Archer was off the ground.
Wangaratta coach Mark Knobel was rapt with how his troops took the initiative while their star opponent was off the ground.
“We really capitalised with our free man which was terrific,” he said.
“Rovers came back at us but we stood up.”
Wangaratta burst out of the blocks with two early goals, however the Hawks rallied and stormed back quickly with four of their own to snatch a 12-point lead at quarter-time.
Rovers’ livewire Alex Marklew set the game alight with one of the goals of the season late in the first term.
Wangaratta hung on, though, and were well and truly in the frame when Archer was sent from the ground.
The Pies slammed home six goals to the Hawks’ one in the second quarter.
Archer toyed with Wangaratta’s defence once he came back on and proved too much for Justin Hoggan to handle with his presence in attack.
The Hawks eventually reclaimed the lead when Jarrad Boumann kicked truly, nine minutes into the final term.
But Magpie Jai Canny found a goal from nowhere minutes later, with youngster Zack Leitch sealing the victory with a mark and goal from a tight angle in the dying stages.
Wangaratta’s noted stars Matt Kelly, Daine Porter, Jamie Allan and Luke Mullins all had big impacts on the contest, but it was the efforts of youngsters like Leitch and Louis Vescio that proved the difference in getting the Pies over the line.
“The senior guys played amazingly well,” Knobel said.
“Maybe the coach has relaxed a bit and calmed down over the past couple of weeks and the boys have responded a bit better to that than me getting frustrated at times.
“They’ve all really stood up.
“But we really needed those younger guys to step up and I thought Damien Bradley, Louis Vescio and Zack Leitch were all terrific.”