Henwood Park has extended its unbeaten run to 13 games with an emphatic 6-2 thrashing of fourth-placed Leeton in a fiery contest at Rawlings Park on Saturday.
Hawks executed an attacking style of play with ruthlessly efficiency, exploiting Leeton on the wings and riding a spectacular Jake Ploenges hat-trick to victory.
But it was Leeton who drew first blood, Nick Trifogli expertly converting from a deft corner against the flow of play.
But it wasn’t long before the Hawks regained control, Ploenges converting a handball-induced penalty minutes later to tie the game.
Henwood Park’s Carl Pideski then scored from close range after capitalising on a poor Leeton turnover in midfield, before Chris Oczkowski made it 3-1 with a rocket from the left wing in the 32nd minute.
Leeton refused to drop their heads, stringing together a beautiful sequence of passes which created an easy chance for Alparslan Gueres at the goalmouth just four minutes later.
But everything unraveled for Leeton when Carmelo Trifogli was shown red for swearing during a heated verbal clash with Henwood Park’s Lachlan Davis.
Hawks instantly took advantage of their numerical advantage, coach Matt Menser embarking on a speedy run before chipping the ball to Ploenges for a clinical finish and a 4-2 lead.
The night went from bad to worse for Leeton when forward attacking midfielder Adam Raso left the game with a back injury late in the half, and would later be joined on the injury list by Nick Trifogli (leg).
Henwood leader Menser put his side up 5-2 to round out the half, his long distance strike ricocheting off a defender as well as the upright before trickling into the goal.
Ploenges then coldly hammered the final nail into Leeton’s coffin shortly after half-time, running onto a gorgeous through ball before testing the strength of the northern goal with a close-range rocket.
Post-game, Menser praised his side for calmly fighting back from an early 1-0 deficit.
“We weren’t too worried when they scored, it was against the run of play and it was just a momentary lapse,” he said.
“We’ve worked on playing the full 90 minutes at training and we know we can come back because we’ve had to do that over the last couple of games.”
Hawks will face Wagga United at Rawlings Park next Sunday, while Leeton hosts Cootamundra at MIA Sports Field.