Tears flowed. Hugs were exchanged. Eyes told of the disbelief. All the while the cheers went on and on.
No one could blame any of the Northern Hawks for feeling in a state of euphoria.
This wasn’t just another premiership win. It was the drought breaker that ended 23 years of despair.
“It’s a massive relief, but it’s a fantastic outcome,” winning coach Ruth Tuohy said after the Hawks 66-57 win over AYC-Friends Arrows.
“It really shows what the season was for us and it finished it off really well.
“I guess it shows when we were down a little bit that we wanted to push on to the very end and leave it all out there.”
After facing up to back-to-back grand defeats against Arrows, it was all or nothing for a third straight year.
They not only exorcised those demons, but wiped away the wait since the Dominant Northerners won the club’s only title back in 1996.
Tuohy “absolutely” believed had Hawks crumbled under the weight of pressure, Arrows could have held the mental edge for another year.
“It was about finding that consistency and overcoming that mindset and anything they previously had happen in other years,” she said, “but we had set it up differently this time and it’s come good.”
Hawks were forced to come back from five goals down at three-quarter-time, only to astonishingly power away and finish nine in front at the end.
Tuohy had switched tactics during the third quarter that included moving captain Ashton Whiley to wing attack and Zoe Claridge to goal attack that helped arrest the momentum.
Hawks teammates Jamie Symons at the other end was pulling down intercepts and Gemma Poke was starting to stand up top shooter Sophie Gunn’s mercurial influence.
But Tuohy said the team made a pact in the final term that made the difference.
“We came together and just said it’s the last 15 minutes. We just wanted to put it all out there,” she said.
They certainly did on the back of a 21-10 turnaround to run over the top of Arrows – the only side to beat Hawks and do it twice. That started with the first seven goals that left Arrows totally stunned.
The Mawer sisters started to take over in the final term.
Chelsea Mawer’s quick hands in the centre ensured Hawks picked up the pace.
Goal ace Ashlea Mawer finished off the good work to shoot 60 goals at 88 per cent.
When Hawks hit the front two and and a half minutes into the quarter, they never surrendered the lead to score 18 of the next 28 goals.
“We’ve been pushing for some time now, so it’s a really nice reward,” Tuohy said.
“I know the girls will celebrate the fact that the club has been pushing for this win for some time too.”
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