Heidelberg West's Marcus Hill kicks away. PHOTO: Nathan WIlliam Media/NFNL

Heidelberg West have kept their 2023 Northern Football Netball League Division 3 finals hopes intact following a hard-fought 12-point victory over Kinglake at Heidelberg Park.

The Hawks grabbed the lead midway through the second term and were never headed thereafter in the 7.16 (58) to 6.10 (46) triumph.

A loss would’ve ended the season for the local team, but they remain a chance, albeit needing an upset in another game next week.

With rain falling for most of the match, the game was a hard slog, with lots of tackles and contested ball.

“The effort was undeniable, which is always pleasing for a coach,” Heidelberg West coach Michael Missen said.

“We go again in seven days and hope to be playing again the week after.”

The Hawks held the edge in the midfield, as Daniel Kelly, Louis Hill and Marcus Hill did well in the clinches.

The home team’s backline also stood up, with Max Post playing a strong defensive game. Brad Moore and Ben Kennan played solid, team football, while Dylan Scott kept the dangerous Leigh Gilbert to a solitary goal.

Captain Nicholas Paton has been used all over the ground this season and today played a vital role in defence.

The goals were spread around for Heidelberg West with seven individual goal-kickers. Quite a few gettable shots were missed but, in the end, they still did enough to win.

The Lakers were virtually locked into third spot on the ladder before the game and rested a few players. The likes of Christopher Douglas, Damian Pywell, Lesley Adams and Mason McAllister didn’t take to the field, giving the chance for a few teenagers to step up and play senior football.

The visitors looked good early and had a lead at the first change. They trailed for the majority of the second half but were close enough to give themselves a chance to prevail.

That chance came early in the final term when their forwards missed two shots on goal. As it turned out, both teams were unable to put the ball through the big sticks for the entire fourth quarter, as with a slippery ball, the Hawks booted four behinds to Kinglake’s five minor scores.

Bailey Robinson was a stand-out in the midfield for the visitors and has now been in his team’s best in his last seven matches. Others to impress in the midfield were Ethan Robinson and Joseph Slattery.

Riley Kennedy continued his good form down back and took a nice specky in the second term despite the wet conditions. Liam Styles stepped up in the absence of some senior players and managed to hit the scoreboard.

“Credit to the Hawks, they had to win, and they did that,” said Kinglake coach Andrew Fairchild.

The Lakers have the bye in the final round of the regular season and will contest the first semi-final the week after.

Everyone who played today looks to be right to go for that final, while several other highly credentialed players will likely make their way back into the side.

The Hawks can still play finals and will be red-hot favourites to defeat Lalor next week at Lalor Reserve.  But they will also need Kilmore to defeat Old Eltham Collegians in the final round or else they will finish the season in fifth place.

HEIDELBERG WEST: 1.4 7.12 7.12 7.16 (58)
GOALS: D. Kelly, W. Le Gassick, L. Hill, B. Moore, A. Williamson, M. Reinke, M. Hill.
BEST: L. Hill, D. Kelly, M. Post, D. Scott, M. Hill, N. Paton.

KINGLAKE: 2.4 6.5 6.7 6.10 (46)
GOALS: R. McIntyre, T. McErlain, J. Slattery, E. Robinson, L. Gilbert, L. Styles.
BEST: J. Slattery, R. King, R. Kennedy, B. Robinson, E. Robinson, L. Styles.

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