AT HIS BEST: Mackay City's midfield magician Desmond Hayes has been in sparkling form for the Hawks in recent weeks.
AT HIS BEST: Mackay City's midfield magician Desmond Hayes has been in sparkling form for the Hawks in recent weeks. Callum Dick

Hayes' heroics has Hawks still in finals hunt

EVERY game is a final in the eyes of Mackay City Hawks coach Brad Best and that starts on the road to Whitsunday tomorrow.

In the race for a top four spot and place in the September action, the Hawks must keep pace with fourth-placed Bakers Creek and that means winning games they are expected to.

In years gone by a trip to Airlie Beach was considered the toughest in the AFL Mackay competition, but the Sea Eagles have struggled this season on a comedown from their 2018 premiership success.

The Hawks are in year two of a rebuilding phase after a significant period of premiership dominance.

But regardless of ladder position, Best said the two clubs always offer up an enthralling contest.

"It's a healthy rivalry and I don't think it matters where the sides are on the ladder,” he said.

"Last year they were winning the flag and we were down the bottom, but we always got up against them. We seem to play our best footy against them.”

When the two teams last met back in Round 7, the Sea Eagles chalked their first and still only win of the campaign with an eight-point upset at Harrup Park.

Best said "nothing short of the four (competition) points” would satisfy he and his playing group this time out.

"The thing about these boys is they have good memories,” the coach said.

"That game and the game against Magpies a couple of weeks ago could come back to haunt us but hopefully they don't.”

The Hawks returned to form last weekend with an impressive 39-point win over Bakers Creek.

That result keeps their finals aspirations alive but Best knows the hard work is only beginning.

"Every game is almost a final for us. This weekend is one that we need to win - the motivation is there,” he said.

In the Hawks' favour is the continued form of club stalwart and multiple best and fairest winner Desmond Hayes.

Best heaped heavy praise on one of Mackay's best ball-winners.

"He gets pretty much every accolade already, but Dessy Hayes' last month of footy has probably been the best I've seen him play,” Best said.

"In the Maggies game he was sensational and last week he was best on ground as well. He's really hitting his straps.

"He's taken the leadership role this year to that next level and is leading by example. The way he goes about it inspires his teammates on the field and that's shown in our last four, five weeks of footy.”

Allied Pickfords Cup Round 13 - Saturday

(2.45pm) - Whitsunday Sea Eagles v Mackay City Hawks at Whitsunday Sports Park

(2.45pm) - Bakers Creek Tigers v North Mackay Saints at Etewell Park



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