Cardiff Hawks coach Nathan Harkness is certain his side can bridge the gap further on unbeaten Black Diamond AFL leaders Terrigal-Avoca despite a 53-point loss at Hylton Moore Oval on Saturday.
Ryan Webster and Daniel Heuston had four goals each for the Panthers, who kicked six majors to the Hawks’ one in the first quarter to take control of the round 11 game from the outset. Terrigal-Avoca, who claimed the first encounter this year with Cardiff by 80 points, went on to win 13.12 (90) to 5.7 (37).
Cardiff were without Tom Quade, Jack Pratt, Cam Jones, Nick Kocon and leading goalkicker Aaron Wivell because of injury. Harkness said the Panthers “were just too good” on Saturday and were the team to beat, but he was confident the second-placed Hawks could challenge with all hands on deck.
“One hundred per cent we can,” Harkness said. “It’s just a matter of us getting there. Hopefully it’s swings and roundabouts come the end of the year.”
The Hawks were missing “three-quarters of their forward line” but Harkness said the Panthers were also understrength and his side needed to improve.
“Our skills were terrible, their pressure was awesome, they were ready to go and we just didn’t come for the game,” he said. “They are a really good, solid unit and with that many changes, it hasn’t helped us gel.
“They had a few out as well, but it’s not about outs. We just chopped the ball up every time we went forward and turned it over. It was terrible and probably one of the worst games we’ve played.”
Elsewhere, Nelson Bay beat Killarney Vale 18.6 (114) to 6.6 (42) at Dick Burwell Oval and Warners Bay lost 9.10 (64) to 8.9 (57) to Newcastle City at Feighan Oval.
Austin Clark, James Hart, Matthew Shortal, Peter Van Dam and Corey Billins each kicked one goal each for the Panthers, while Josh Murphy had four for the Hawks.
Jayden Rymer booted five goals for Nelson Bay, who also had Mathew Dews (three), Todd Thornton, Luke Price and Jye Clayden (two each) as multiple scorers.
Courtney Knight, Liam Dwyer and Patrick Gillingham had two majors each for Newcastle City.