The new Kings of the EFNL, Rowville bounced back in 2023 to make their second consecutive Grand Final, this time winning the 2023 Premier Division Senior Men’s Premiership.
Ladder Position: 2nd (14-4, 154.30%)
Leading Goalkicker: Lachlan Wynd (55 Goals)
The Rowville redemption year ended in a fairy-tale finish for the Hawks, winning their first-ever premiership at Premier Division level.
After a breakout year for the club in 2022, winning the Minor Premiership and making a Grand Final, the club entered the 2023 season as one of the hot favourites for the flag.
Their start to the season wasn’t the desired outcome, dropping their first two games against Noble Park and Balwyn, giving up five-goal leads both times.
However, after that, the Hawks went on to win 14 of their next 16 games to earn a double chance spot for the second year in a row. At their best, they were brutally dominant as the number-one-ranked offence in the league.
A top-two spot saw the Hawks face off against Minor Premiers Vermont in the Semi-Final. Controlling the majority of the game, a Vermont fightback made for an exciting contest in which Rowville managed to hold on by a single point.
Two weeks later, the two clubs met at Bayswater Oval once again, this time for the premiership. The closest Grand Final in years, Rowville held on for a ten-point victory, their first-ever premiership at the top level.
Having yet another incredible year was the skipper Anthony Brolic. Polling well in the Chandler Medal, Brolic was a proven match-winner, averaging 26 disposals and 7 clearances per game.
Brilliant across the season, Kyle Stainthorpe had a strong and consistent season, eight times in the best, averaging 16 disposals and 6 marks in 2023.
Young star Cooper Macdonald backed up a great season last year to make the Team of the Year at Half Back. Despite missing a portion of the season due to injury, he was a huge inclusion to the side in September.
Up forward, Lachlyn Wynd proved to be a massive weapon, with 55 goals for the year, including a six-goal Semi-Final performance against the Eagles.
Best Win: Grand Final – Rowville 9.12 66 def. Vermont 8.8 56 @Bayswater Oval
After the heartbreak of the 2022 Grand Final, the Hawks returned to their second consecutive decider at Bayswater Oval. Unlike the poor weather of 2022, the two Grand Finalists faced off in perfect conditions for the biggest game of the season.
The contest was tight all afternoon, with Rowville leading at every change. With the game on a knife’s edge in the third term, skipper Anthony Brolic set up a game-changing moment with a big tackle followed by a long goal from outside 50.
Vermont continued to hang around late, but Rowville had an answer for everything, holding off for a famous ten-point premiership win.
Jesse Eickhoff was incredible in the Hawks’ premiership performance. In defence, he managed to shut down dangerous Vermont forward Adrian Kalcovski, keeping him goalless.
One of the great benefits of the Hawks line-up is the overall average age of the group. With a very young core group of players that are only going to improve.
They’ve already made a couple of big signing announcements. That includes former Doncaster star Liam Coghlan.
More than capable of another big season with the current list, will head into the year as the hunted. The likes of Balwyn and Vermont have been able to create sustained success in previous years. That will be the Hawks’s big test in 2024 as they look to create some more history.