NEAFL: Tuggeranong v Eastlake
L-R Tuggeranong player Toby Richards challenges Eastlake player Leigh McMahon. Photo: Melissa Adams
THE ROAR from the grandstand as Tuggeranong defender Chris Robinson beat two opponents to win a free kick in the dying minutes told the story - the Hawks had found themselves outmanned in their three years in the NEAFL eastern conference, but they still had their loyal supporters.
And their last home game in the NEAFL, after being kicked out of the second-tier competition last month, was no different.
Despite trying their guts out, they simply couldn't match it with finals-bound Eastlake, losing 16.7 (103) to 9.7 (61) at Greenway Oval on Saturday.
A good crowd turned out to farewell the NEAFL, as well as celebrate co-captain Ashley Pocock's 200th game in idyllic conditions.
It was a danger game for Eastlake, who needed a win to guarantee a finals berth.
The Hawks have been the Demons' bogy side in recent years and were in the hunt at half-time, trailing by just 21 points.
But a four-goal-to-nil third quarter ended the contest.
Dean Roulstone kicked four goals for Eastlake, with Ryan Brabazon (three), Hayden Armstrong (two) and Daniel Ryall (two) also getting among the goals.
The Hawks' goalscorers were Brent Macleod (four), Pocock (three) and Kirk Mahon (two).
Tuggeranong patron Pat McLindin was sorry her club wouldn't be playing at the top level next season, but felt other Canberra clubs would follow them out of the NEAFL in the coming years.
She was a foundation member of the club and said she'd still be at Greenway next year when the Hawks play in Canberra AFL division one.
Pocock was chaired from the ground, along with Hawks playing coach Peter McGrath, with Eastlake forming a guard of honour.
McGrath has also played more than 200 senior games, many with the Demons before joining Tuggeranong this year.
While McGrath was relatively new to the club, Pocock came up through the ranks. He played for the Tuggeranong Lions as a junior before graduating to the Hawks.
Pocock didn't think it would hit him until the season had ended, along with the Hawks' time in the NEAFL.
''It's hard to say, it might not sink in until it's done and you don't play in a NEAFL game with a Tuggeranong jumper,'' Pocock said.
The Sydney Swans reserves beat their Greater Western Sydney counterparts to return to the top of the eastern conference ladder.
With Eastlake's win ending their finals hopes, Queanbeyan will play Belconnen for nothing but pride on Sunday, while Sydney Hills Eagles and Sydney Uni will battle it out for bragging rights in the Harbour City.