Seany Smyth ~ VC/Backline Coach/Interviewer Extraordinaire
With only six weeks remaining until the USAFL Nationals in Austin, preparation is in full swing as we prepare to field two strong teams to take on the Country’s best. With strong numbers attending training, personal best time recorded in time trials, stories of weight loss, attendance at Matt Stevens Sweat Workshops with DB and Beers, extra running sessions at Memorial Park & Katy, Trigger’s running classes as well as many other success stories in the “Training Tracker”, the extra buzz, commitment and intensity within the group will put us in good shape for successful upcoming Texas Cups and Nationals. Our road to the Nationals began in Baton Rouge.
After a long 6 hour drive west along the i10 Highway the Lonestars arrived with a strong squad of 22 players ready to take on the Tigers. The forecast for the day was blistering heat, with temperatures hovering in the 100s there was no sign of respite. With the intimidating news of the Lonestars arriving in town, the Tigers were down on numbers. To make a contest of the day we lent them some of our finest players including the likes of Talis, CDG, Josh “Sandilands” Devlin, Robbie Sherlock, Coach Dan and Captain Stevens.
With Lonestars winning the toss and kicking towards the New Orleans end, we were in for an enthralling contest. The dangerous Coach Dan had no hesitation in taking the full forward position for the Tigers demanding all others forwards to just get out of the way. He was picked up by man mountain Scottie Cameron at full back, who was joined by the courageous return of Zach at half back. The 'Stevie J' like Rick went to Full Forward for the Lonestars, alongside Matty L and ’Spangher-like’ Damo at half forward. Phil and Mueller lined up deep in the pockets. Josh “Sandilands” Devlin lined up as ruck man for the Tigers, towering over the bulked up Adam Beers, the recent recipient of muscle following weeks of intense Matt Stevens bootcamps. He was in for an exciting day with the likes of Trigger, Blake, Jesse, CDG and Stu Job to do his clearance work.
The opening bounce saw Devlin and Beers do battle for the first of many hit outs for the day. It was the beginning of one of the key match-ups for the day with each player being in their respective teams best players by the end of the game. Ruck work by both men was exemplary all over the field, with both refusing to give into the Louisiana heat a testament to their endurance and determination. The first quarter saw the ball locked in the Lonestar forward line for a majority of the first quarter. With plenty of shots on goal, the Lonestars failed to capitalize with scoreboard pressure finishing the quarter with 4 goals 9 points. The first quarter was soured with the sending off of forward sensation Rick for disagreeing with Umpire Stebbing’s interpretation of the rules to his displeasure.
The second quarter saw the Tigers change the momentum of the game highlighted by strong performances of Lonestars loaned players. It started with Matt Stevens repelling everything at half back, Talis running and penetrating with his long kicks into the Tigers forward line with Coach Dan being on the end of some well directed kicks. Robbie Sherlock was making his mark across half forward also for the Tigers by getting plenty of the ball. Josh Devlin continued to be everywhere. The long break couldn’t come soon enough for the Lonestars as their lead dropped to 16 points.
During the break the boys regrouped and refocused their attention. The focus for the second half was to increase intensity and talk, to kick to space and make the most of our opportunities in front of goal. The third quarter opened with a bang for the Lonestars with a long ‘Issac Smith’ like goal by CDG. This was followed by the inspiring tackle of Val coming off the bench to take down Luna the dog - the new addition to the Job clan. She unfortunately had to leave the field with a bloody knee and sore neck. This inspiration lifted the boys. It started at half back in Zach’s return game and he didn’t miss a beat. He was relentless at the ball and player, who continuously drove the ball forward. The “A class” midfield of Trigger, Blake, Stu and Jesse continued to get plenty of the ball to the forwards with Damo taking every mark which came his way. Rick was also beginning to look dangerous and ready to explode. The Tigers continued to put up a good fight, with Talis, Matt Stevens and Dan continuing to keep the game a contest. The final break saw the Lonestars up by four goals.
The final quarter began with a bang. For the second time in 12 months, Tigers forward Robert Montanaro viscously attacked our president DB in a marking contest. DB did not flinch and took the mark to set-up a goal for Rick. This broke the Tigers back. Rick kicked three for the quarter and ended the game with four. Trigger and Blake were dominant all day finishing with three and two goals respectively. Lonestars ran away with the game to win by 55 points. Coach Jordan was very pleased with his teams efforts for the day despite the slow start.
Houston Lonestars 15 - 15 - 105
Baton Rouge Tigers 7 – 8 - 50
Lonestars: Rick 4?, Trigger 3, Blake, CDG 2, Stu Job, Talis, Matt L, Paul M 1
BR loaned players: Holwerda 3
Lonestars: Trigger, Zac, Blake, Beers, Damo, CDG
BR loaned players: JD, Matt S, Dan, Robbie