Narromine Hawks win through to grand final date with Fusion Heat

At the start of the year the Narromine Hawks were barely giving the Rawson Homes Premiership A Grade competition a thought.

But after stepping up to the top grade the side is now just four quarters away from an incredible title victory.

The Hawks downed Fusion Fire in Saturday's preliminary final to advance to a grand final date with two-time defending premiers Fusion Heat.

The result may seem a shock given Fusion Fire sat second on the ladder for virtually the entire season but the Hawks controlled proceedings throughout the preliminary clash.

Led by the outstanding defensive duo of captain Trudy Althofer and Bec Smyth, the Hawks never allowed Fire to really find a rhythm in the 47-41 result.

"We were certainly not expecting it," a stunned Althofer said.

"At the start of the season we didn't want to be in A Grade and we had a lot of new players but they've come together really well.

"All we wanted at the start of the season was to play alright, and then we had the goal of making top four and it's quite surprising and shocking that we're playing the grand final next weekend."


The victory was the best of the Hawks' season and it makes the year a huge success regardless of what happens against a dominant Heat side which is yet to lose a game this season.

"That was our biggest win and there's nothing to for us," Althofer said, looking at the grand final.

"We'll just go out and play our game. We didn't expect to be here so we'll go out and have a lot of fun when we're playing and what will be, will be."

While the Hawks will be major underdogs next time out, the performance on Saturday showed they're more than capable of making life uncomfortable for a Heat side yet to be beaten this season.

Both sides started somewhat slowly in what was gusty conditions in the preliminary final but the Hawks' ability to create turnovers started to come to the fore and they led 9-6 after the first quarter.

That three-point margin stayed in place for most of the game from then on, as the Hawks produced a consistent performance across all four quarters.

They led 21-19 at the main break and then 33-30 heading into the final term.

At 41-38 late in the fourth quarter and with Fire having scored two successive goals there was a hint of a comeback but yet another midcourt turnover allowed the Hawks to kick away late.

Althofer and Smyth starred, but Meg Morris and Katrina Ivers ensured there was plenty of opportunities created for attacking duo Denise Skinner and Renee Matheson.

The attacking duo didn't shirk their responsibility in defence either, as Fire players all over the court found themselves with little time on the ball.

"They all put in, it's really good," Althofer said.

"If the ball is turned over they quickly go into defence and Denise has long arms and Meg and Kat work really hard if the ball is lost."

While there was effort all over the court, the performances of Althofer and Smyth stood out.

Smyth, the former Australian rugby union representative who also shone for the Narromine Gorillas side this year, provided a huge amount of energy and got the ball moving forward well while the height of the captain and goal-keeper makes her a daunting prospect.

"It's always interesting," Althofer laughed, discussing her combination with Smyth.

"We sometimes fight for rebounds and you don't know who you're coming down on.

"We're very lucky to have Bec. She's great to play with and is always really positive in the circle."

Monique May was a standout for the beaten side, putting in a huge amount of work in defence, while Payton Reynolds drained a number of difficult shots against the imposing Hawks defence.

The grand final is 2.45pm, Saturday.