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Hawks set sights on minor premiership

LEADER: Cardiff Hawks back Nick Tomlinson. Picture: Max Mason-HubersCardiff coach Nathan Harkness has called it the Hawks’ “biggest game of the year”.
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A top-of-the-table clash with joint competition leaders Terrigal Avoca at home on the club’s old boys day.The 2018 Black Diamond AFL minor premiership on the line. And the chance to earn the opening weekend off come finals time.

There’s plenty at stake in the penultimate round at Hillsborough Oval and Harkness backs last year’s runner’s up to be ready for the challenge against the defending champions.

“It’s definitely our biggest game of the year,” Harkness told the Newcastle Herald.

“Minor premiership, the week off, beating Terrigal –all of the above. There’s a lot on the line and we can’t wait.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge on what is a special day for our football club.”

Harkness, who expects a 1998 grand-final reunion to be part of Cardiff faithful, said the Hawks had learnedtheir lessons from a 24-point loss to third-placed Newcastle City at No.1 Sportsground on June 30.

“Until now, that was our biggest test so far this season. City just jumped out of the blocks and left us wanting,” Harkness said. “We’ve learned our lessons from that day and we don’t want to let it happen again.”

Cardiff and Terrigal Avoca have only dropped one match each this campaign. The Hawks knocked off the Panthers by 26 points at Hylton Moore Oval on April 14.

Harkness said the Hawks were virtually at full strength, mentioning Tom Yensch, Jack Lennon, Lachlan Price, Simon O’Brien and Brandt Job as some of the Hawks’ keys.

“We’ve been rotating the boys a bit so they understand the structures and can do any job,” he said.

The Cardiff mentor said he was wary of Terrigal Avoca duo James Webster and Chris Bishop as well as the return of forward Mark Skuse.

Also on Saturday,fourth-placed Warners Bay travel to Maitland, Nelson Bay are away toSingleton, Gosford are at home to Killarney Vale in a seven-versus-sixencounter while Lake Macquarie host eighth-placed Wyong Lakes.City has the bye. The top-seven play-offs start on August 18.

LADDER: Terrigal Avoca, Cardiff (93%); Newcastle City (86); Warners Bay (62); Singleton (60); Killarney Vale (50); Gosford (43); Wyong Lakes (29); Nelson Bay (21); Maitland (14); Lake Macquarie (0).

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