Swinburne University 3.9.27 defeated by West Brunswick 9.17.71
Goal Kickers: M. Daly 2, D. Manning
Best Players: M. Lingham, B. Higgins, R. Lugg, N. Mauran, A. Woodhead, S. Capra
This week saw the Razorback men take on the force that is West Brunswick in a do-or-die Elimination Final at Garvey Oval, Bundoora on Sunday afternoon. Having lowered our colours to the Magpies only 3 weeks earlier to the tune of 120 points, this always loomed as a huge task to even come close. Regardless of the magnitude of the task before them, Coach Koumantatakis took a measured and calculated approach into the game, and the boys knew that if the game plan was executed correctly, it would get them very close to a historic upset.
With spring-like conditions, and a slight breeze blowing away from Bundoora Road, a good turnout of supporters were present to cheer the boys on. The late omission of Juzzy due to illness saw Cam Atkins come into the fold; an ideal candidate given the conditions, to help put pressure on the West Brunswick boys at ground level. The first quarter began as a tight contest, with the Razors kicking with the breeze. Possession was evenly split between the 2 teams, and it was clear that the game plan formulated by Coach George was working in restricting the easy ball movement by West Brunswick. Danny Manning snagged the first sausage roll of the match, to which he celebrated in Jacko Manning style with fist pumps and waves to the crowd. The boys were excited, they could feel they were in this, and knew they had it in them. The remainder of the first quarter saw standout performances from the likes of Daniel Hassaballa down the wing, Michael Daly shutting down his opponent in defence, and the quick steps of Danny Lyons proving problematic for the West midfield in restricting his use. The later stages of the quarter saw the movement open up for the opposition, with a late spree of scoring shots seeing them take a 10 point advantage into the first break.
Coach George delivered some more words to his men, stressing the importance of structure and of everyone playing their role, and the boys headed out for the 2nd quarter with a clear mindset of what had to be achieved. Captain Kane was ably assisted by VC Ash in the midfield, doing what they do week-in week-out in putting their bodies on the line, crashing packs and moving the inside ball to the outside of the contest and into the hands of good ball users Sammy “Captain Sparrow” Capra and Daniel “wishes he looked like Sammy” Hassaballa. Richard Lugg was also pivotal in the backline, combining with Nick Mauran to repel West Brunswick’s forward entries during the opening quarter and a half. The Razors struggled making the most of forward entries, as West used the counterattack to great effect and the sheer weight of forward entries meant that the defenders were unable to fully stem the flow. The Magpies had 7 scoring shots for the quarter compared to the Razors 1, but thankfully inaccuracy left the margin at just 21 points at the half.
The half time break saw the boys regroup, restructure and, following some motivating words from George, head back into the 3rd quarter with plenty of belief knowing that they were still well and truly in this contest. The Razors boys played some of the best football seen by those present, as they wrestled back the momentum and completely took control of the contest from the start of the 3rd term. Jacko “Best” Manning was proving critical in the ball movement off the half back line, while Daniel “Bagger Vance” Noonan was outstanding in the ruck, winning his fair share of the hit outs against a larger opponent. Damon “Agent Orange” Green also lifted another gear in the 3rd term, providing a key target up forward. The West Brunswick defence held strong against the barrage of Razorback entries, though the precise structure and well drilled unit of Pigs made it very problematic for the opposition to clear the ball from our forward line. Tom “Kendog” Kennedy never gave up presenting an option for the midfielders delivering the ball into the forward line, while the key standout of the 3rd quarter was the recently uncovered future superstar of the Razorbacks, Michael “Long John” Daly. The coaching staff made the brilliant call of slinging Long John into the forward line to provide another athletic physical presence in addition to Kendog. The West Brunswick defence had obvious difficulty in handling the young Daly, as he clunked multiple contested marks inside forward 50, slotting home 2 goals and closing the margin to single digits. Further set shot opportunities for the Razors late in the 3rd term went wanting, as the West Brunswick back line repelled the ball with great affect, slotting home 2 late goals to extend the margin to 20 points at the final change.
There was plenty of belief in the group at 3 quarter time, having demonstrated thus far that they have the ability to mix it with the best, and create multiple scoring opportunities. The start of the final quarter saw the contest tighten up, as the Razors showed they still had plenty of run and were able to provide set shot opportunities for Damon Green and John Daly. Unfortunately, these set shots went astray, and West Brunswick rebounded with some of their best ball use for the day, kicking a couple of quick goals, extending the margin beyond 5 goals by the 18 minute mark of the quarter. For those watching, the mathematics didn’t look promising as the boys in black and white had the momentum, the wind, and the 5 goal advantage. The Razors men never gave up, though, pushing forward and applying pressure all over the ground to make every possession earned. Eventually, a couple of late goals took the margin out to 44 points, which all those present supporting either side agreed was not reflective of the match itself.
Other standout performers for the day included Marcus “Cus” Lingham, who was one of the best on ground for his efforts in defence, using his enormous athlete ability to its full, and in the process demonstrating why he is so pivotal to the Razorbacks side for 2016. William Wood also performed strongly in defence, combining well with the prodigious foot of Kevin “Boots” McElgunn to repel the ball out of the back line throughout the day. Jarrod Barnes also demonstrated why he is such a valued member of the team, with his precision ball movement proving critical in setting up opportunities for our forwards throughout the day. David Thwaites was a huge asset in the ruck (literally), and combined his large frame with good skills to give our mids first use of the ball, while Ben Higgins was his usual reliable self racking up countless contested possessions throughout the day and demonstrating why he is so well respected among the group.
Coach Koumantatakis addressed the group following the match, and while the result hadn’t gone our way, he was still very proud of the players for their efforts and their dedication to the game-plan. It was an emotional moment, but the disappointing feeling of missing out will only galvanise the group to put in the extra yards over preseason, and take this club to the next level in 2016. Coach George saying after the game that he couldn't be prouder of the group, and hopes they now realise what potential they have to take it further next year.
While the Seniors campaign has come to a close, the Reserves are very much alive in this finals campaign and are one win away from a grand finals berth. Be sure to make yourself available to come support the boys at Garvey Oval at 11:30 on Saturday 5th September!
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