KICK: Captain Ben Kuskey clears the ball for Gin Gin in the preliminary final against the Northern Force on the weekend.
KICK: Captain Ben Kuskey clears the ball for Gin Gin in the preliminary final against the Northern Force on the weekend. Neil Redfern

Hawks fly into the NDRL grand final

LEAGUE: Gin Gin could be counting the costs of a historic day for the club.

Rising in the final 25 minutes from a deficit, the Hawks defeated a gallant Northern Force 28-20 to qualify for this weekend's Northern Districts Rugby League grand final.

Gin Gin came back from 16-6 to score 22 of the last 26 points.

But the side could be without players when they play Avondale in the final.

"We had players falling like flies,” Hawks coach Ben Kuskey said.

"Clint Beer popped his shoulder, his brother Clayton Beer did the same and Thomas Strahan did his foot.

"They'll all be touch and go.”

The injuries took away what was a spirited comeback.

"The whole forward pack lifted in the second half and Todd Blair was phenomenal,” Kuskey said.

"At half-time everyone was saying stuff and I said stop saying it and go out and do it.

"They did it which was really good.”

The side will now prepare to beat the unbeaten Avondale.

"We'll be the underdogs there will be no pressure on us to win,” Kuskey said.

The loss for the Force ended a season of what-ifs.

The side was eliminated in straight sets after leading against both Avondale last week and Gin Gin.

"I only got one hour of sleep on Sunday night thinking what could have been,” Force coach Mick O'Sullivan said.

"We seriously could have taken it out if we got there.”

In the end, injuries cost the team dearly when captain Tim McIntosh didn't play and others struggled to play for 80 minutes.

"Joseph Abbott scored two tries with a busted shoulder that needed surgery four weeks ago,” O'Sullivan said.

"We were the walking wounded out there and I'm seriously proud of the team for turning up and playing.

"Gin Gin were too good and deserved to be in.”

The future for the merged Force side is now unknown with Agnes Water and Miriam Vale to discuss what happens next year.

Gin Gin will take on Avondale at 2.45pm this Sunday at South Kolan.



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