Finals are here
Now if the AFL has taught me one thing (apart from the importance of an obscure set of motor skills above all other characteristics I once thought important), it is that it is always best to play the Tigers in the first week of finals. So with the Untouchables matched against Hobart Tigers for the first final, the omens were good. Still after a close game against the same team last week I wasn’t over-confident. A lot can happen in terms of form and personnel in the space of a week- just look at America’s National Security Council.
The game started with both teams looking dangerous. The Untouchables were rucking great (I said ‘rucking’) in offense, while the Tigers were showing their individual speed and agility to threaten any gaps in our defence. Consequently both teams had to defend hard with the ball moving from one end of the field to the other each time it changed hands.
After a couple of close calls in defence, the Untouchables were the first to score, with La Nina creating turbulence like it was 1998 and making an opening for the Steczosaurus to score. The Tigers quickly struck back to level the scores when one their players snuck through a gap after a quick sidestep. The Untouchables defence then had to stand firm for a short period as the Tigers sought to increase their need. Fortunately Special K was providing plenty of defensive fibre and desperate dives by her and the Archangel Gabby prevented a few early tries against us.
Having held out the Tigers’ best attacks, we began to fight back with direct play that had the entire Tigers defence backpedalling hard. The pressure began to tell and the Steczosaurus was able to graze on the results as he dived over for another three tries in quick succession. We thought we had another when La Nina and The Mona Lisa created space for Salt’n Peppa to ground the ball with a spectacular dive. Unfortunately the referees felt the girls had been just a little too forward in this instance (I know it’s the 21st century and liberated women are allowed to be as forward as they like, but the rules for forward passes haven’t changed). Still, it was a temporary reprieve for the Tigers, with Special K scoring our fifth soon after.
The Untouchables’ commanding lead was narrowed close to the end of the half when the Tigers overloaded to one side and we were a little slow to react, so we went in to the half time break with a 5-2 lead.
I was expecting the Tigers to come out firing in the second half and was a little concerned fatigue from the previous day’s Run The Bridge run might catch me up, but it was the Untouchables who dominated the next ten minutes to put the game beyond doubt. It wasn’t hard to guess the source of The Mona Lisa’s cryptic smile, as we attacked as relentlessly and mercilessly as one of King Richard’s Crusades.
The White Walker scored on our first foray forward and this was the start of burst of scoring. La Nina ran into space near the line calling for me to pass, but (perhaps having picked up a thing or two from the federal government about ignoring weather patterns) I burnt her and chucked it back inside for The White Walker to score his second in much tighter space (In my defence, I saw it a little differently so perhaps I should say I’m not sure the science is settled on that particular debate).
La Nina wouldn’t be denied though, running over to score the next soon after. Five minutes into the half, it was 8-2 and the Tigers were showing as much fight and teamwork as their AFL namesakes. Their attacking plays were making less and less ground, with the Submarine and King Richard prominent in the Untouchables’ defence. A rare break in our defensive line allowed one of their runners to get through and score a solo effort from half way, but this was the only meaningful counter.
Special K scored her second rather acrobatic try after I threw a pass way higher than necessary and she somehow gathered it in and put it down before falling out of bounds. While the Steczosaurus was obviously still hungry and scored his fifth with another trademark slide near the end of the game.
The final siren went soon after, giving us a deserved 10-3 win (although I have a feeling I have ripped someone off and not included their try in the wrap up- apologies if it’s you. Unlike the banking sector I do feel bad when I cheat someone of something they deserve). It was one of our more complete team games. The attacking play was excellent and really kept our opponents on the back foot for large periods of the game, with very few mistakes to give them any rest.
But it was our defence that was really exceptional. The speed of our opponents was nullified by our compact defensive line that reduced them to mainly running side to side. When the Tigers’ plan A didn’t work, they ran out of ideas quicker than Scott Morrison on tax policy.
Next week may require a change in strategy, as I am expecting our semi-final opponents to use the ruck more and run sideways less, which will push us harder in defence. But if we keep communicating and working hard we have every chance of making it through to the Grand Final!