Magic rescues Wangaratta Rovers

AN electric final quarter burst from young gun Alex Marklew ensured Wangaratta Rovers did enough to hold off bitter rival Wangaratta in yesterday’s derby.

The Hawks ran out 22-point winners in a scrappy contest at the W.J. Findlay Oval.

Marklew, who finished with four goals in a low-scoring encounter, booted three of them in the final quarter to help Rovers hold its spot inside the top five.

Wangaratta refused to give up on an upset and was still well and truly in the game 10 minutes into the last term.

A bit of magic from last year’s rising star got the Hawks over the line.

Rovers coach Paul Maher revealed he had asked Marklew for something special.

“We had a chat to him at three-quarter-time and told him we needed something special out of him,” Maher said.

“In that last quarter he really stood up.

“He knows where the goals are and is super mercurial and the goals he kicked, we desperately needed.

“We told him that the opportunities would come and they did.”

While Marklew stole the show with skill in the dying stages, it did not mask the fact that yesterday’s derby was far from a spectacle.

The match was plagued by turnovers and poor decision making.

Judd Porter and Sean O’Keeffe both had field days in defence picking off loose balls from the opposition.

Maher said that had to change if the Hawks were to be any chance of testing Yarrawonga this week.

“That’s why we wanted to play well,” he said.

“We wanted to make sure the things we put in place against Wodonga Raiders happened again and then we could have really taken it into the Yarrawonga game.

“But we realise now we’ve still got a way to go and a lot of work to do to compete with those sides.

“As much as we try to instil in the players that it’s not about the black and white jumper, it’s not about playing the side over the road, it still often turns into a slog.

“There’s a lot of passion and this game was the same.”

Shane Gaston did as he pleased in the ruck for the Hawks, with Sam Carpenter, Darcy Booth and Jamie Sheahan contributing well in the trenches.

The Pies had a handful of standouts.

Porter dominated in defence, with Jamie Allan the best midfielder.

Matt Grossman’s pace continually caused the Hawks headaches.

Daniel Archer took six marks inside 50 but could only manage one goal.

Rovers’ kicking for goal was nothing short of terrible.

Wangaratta coach Mark Knobel, said his players were “really good” though lost Zack Leitch before the game with an ankle injury and copped a host of injuries on the day.

David Thayer hurt himself in the warm-up and was limited all game.

“But we were still competitive against a side who everyone tips to be right up there with the top three,” Knobel said.

“If we had a fitter side and more of a bench for rotations, maybe it might have been a different story.

“Our effort was terrific apart from 10 to 15 minutes where we didn’t man up.”