The Collie Eagles sit on top of the ladder after claiming a 33 point win over the Augusta Margaret River Hawks in the first round of the 2018 South West Football League season .
Despite being bolstered by the addition of a number of new players, including Jack Hick from East Perth and Swan Districts’ Matt Jukes, the Hawks failed to capitalise on a number of opportunities and left much of their energy on the field without converting it to points on the board.
A slow first quarter saw the Hawks restricted to just one goal while the Eagles stamped their mark on the game early, forward Joel Houghton seemingly unstoppable from the outset and claiming Collie’s first major.
Jayce Fontana backed it up with another clean goal inside 50 and by the end of the first quarter, Collie had a 14 point lead.
Jake Rodgers and Mitchell Lynn worked hard to keep the ball away from Collie’s forwards, the pair looking as dangerous on the field as they did in their final games of the last season and expending huge amounts of energy to take the ball out of danger.
The frustration was clear as the Hawks struggled to stay in front of the ball, dropping relatively easy marks and being forced to run down their opponents who seemed a step ahead as the second quarter wore on.
The Eagles took shot after shot at goal, Houghton again dangerous with another goal, quickly answered by the Hawks who lined up another three shots at goal with only one successfully sailing between the posts.
A high tackle on Harry Morgan gave him a chance to finish the first half on a high, but a strong breeze pushed the ball over for a behind despite Morgan’s straight kicking.
Collie started the second half with a 19 point lead, and the Hawks troubles continued with plenty of opportunity being lost to shaky kicking.
A big mark from Jack Hick had the ball safely delivered to Jacob Payne metres from goal, but again the Hawks could manage just a behind.
The Eagles lead stretched to 24 points, the Hawks defence worked hard to stem the flow with Mark Semini, Lincoln Adams and Jake Rodgers combining to put pressure on Collie’s Jayce Fontana, who along with Houghton managed to appear everywhere at once throughout the game.
With much effort being spent on simply keeping possession, the Hawks were blessed with another goal late in the third, only to be rewarded with a clean goal from Fontana a minute later.
Houghton snatched another goal from 50 before Matt Jukes responded with a snap off the boot close to the post to claw back some distance in the final minutes of the term.
With just a 23 point lead heading into the final quarter the Eagles needed to keep up their efforts to maintain the gap as the Hawks threw what they had left at the visitors.
Jack Hick claimed the first goal back from the break with a tricky angle Seve Grantis needed a moment to gather himself after a big hit against a teammate had him pausing behind play.
Collie seemed oddly panicky, giving away a couple of easy free kicks despite still holding a 17 point lead.
Blair Malatesta had an unmissable shot to notch another goal for the Eagles while Hawk James Price had to settle for a behind despite a valiant effort putting his body on the line to tumble after an open ball.
Another two goals to Collie – and yet another to Houghton – and the Hawks were hurting, but Jack Hick again managed to bring the deficit back to 19 points with another major.
Collie began to run down the clock as the final siren loomed, passing the ball and forcing the tired Augusta Margaret River to run even more.
With just two seconds remaining, the Eagles sealed the deal with a final goal, celebrating their 33 point win as the siren rang out over Gloucester Park.
Final score: Collie Eagles 12.5 (77) defeat AMR Hawks 6.8 (44)
More results from round one of the 2018 SWFL season: