The Abermain Hawks have capped off a tumultuous year for the club by winning the 2018 NHRL D-grade South premiership with a gutsy second-half effort.
Just two weeks after the Hawks’ club rooms were destroyed by fire, the players rallied to beat Cardiff 18-6 in Saturday’s grand final.
Trailing 4-6 at half-time Abermain stormed home with a second-half hat-trick by Tim Fitzpatrick.
After qualifying for the grand final on Saturday, August 25, the Hawks were left heartbroken when their clubhouse was destroyed by a deliberately-lit fire the following Monday night.
Abermain coach Dean Peterkin said the fire was just the latest episode in an up and down year for the club.
“At the start of the year we were struggling with four or five people at training and not sure if we were going to get a side together,” he said.
“We played our trial games with just 14 people, it was a real struggle early on.
“To get where we are now with the grand final win it’s been a pretty amazing year.
To get where we are now with the grand final win it’s been a pretty amazing year.Dean Peterkin
“It will be nice to open the new club rooms with a celebration.”
Peterkin said the team committed to seeing the job through to the end after the fire.
“It happened on the Monday night and our first training session on the Tuesday there was a mix up with the lights and they didn’t come on,” he said.
“We sat around had a couple of beers and a good chat about it. From that point everyone was on the same page that we weren’t going to let it deter us.
“It was only going to spur us on that bit more to come through the adversity and show the community that we’re still sticking together no matter what happens.”
The grand final win was the Hawks ninth in a row, a run which saw them rise from the bottom of the ladder to be minor premiers.
“Every person who put the jersey on really stood up and did their job,” Peterkin said.
“Shannon Harmey our lock ended up getting the CRL player of the year for D-grade South and our halfback Nathan Robertson was man of the match on the day.
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“Tim Fitzpatrick scored a hat-trick in the second as well which got us through in the end. Those three players were our stand outs on the day but it was a great team performance.
Peterkin said he plans to play next year but will be looking to hand over the coaching reins.
“I’ll still be definitely sticking around the club. I’ve had three grand finals in a row and only won one, so I might hang the coaching hat up on a high,” he said.
Peterkin said the club had received tremendous support from the local community throughout the year, but in particular after the fire.
“This is win for the entire community,” he said. “The celebrations after the match were fantastic.”