There’s been something of a homecoming at Kiewa-Sandy Creek in 2018.
It was well documented just how successful the Hawks were int he recruiting stakes ahead of the season, with former Wodonga Raider Jack di Mizio headlining a number of key additions.
They weren't just country football guns for hire though – Di Mizio is a former junior, as are a number of the league powerhouse's off-season success stories.
Hawks midfielder Jack Andrew said the sheer amount of former juniors joining for a premiership tilt had created a certain sense of camaraderie at the club.
“A few additions this year have probably helped us, and getting juniors back to the club has been a huge thing,” Andrew said.
“Jack (Di Mizio) coming back from Raiders, he was a junior player, I played a lot of games with him.
“That's probably been the key for us, plus a few other blokes.
“There's a connection between those guys you play juniors with, there's maybe eight or 10 who played juniors at the club at the moment, and a lot of those guys were in the same age groups.
“It brings a bit of camaraderie.”
Saturday's decider against Thurgoona will be a rematch of last year's grand final, although the circumstances this time around couldn't be more different.
The Bulldogs were easily the consensus team to beat in 2017, and steamrolled Kiewa-Sandy Creek in a one-sided grand final.
This time, the Hawks are going in as favourites – although it's far from a sure thing.
Kiewa, Thurgoona and Barnawartha all stood clear as the teams to beat this season, with both grand finalists edging past the Tigers to progress to the big dance at the MCG of the Bush.
After favouring a more defensive style of play last season, Andrew said Kiewa had been given the green light to play a more attacking brand of football this season, whiel retaining their defensive edge.
“We'll look to attack on Saturday, but we definitely have to defend well against Thurgoona, they have so many ball-winners,” he said.
“’Muddy’ (Hawks coach Adam Mudra) has put a big emphasis on consistency, consistently attack and defending.
“That said, every team loves to attack, and if you can attack well you'll be in pretty good shape at the end of the game.”
The Hawks have a chance to recreate a slice of history too – 10 years ago both the senior footballers and A-Grade netballers won premierships.
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