AFLW Round 4 – Brisbane v GWS: The North Approaches
The North Approaches
Brisbane v Greater Western Sydney
3.35pm, Saturday, 25thth February
South Pine Sports Complex, Brendale
Right off the bat allow me to apologise for my previous article where I, overwhelmed by fatigue, dehydration and suffering a debilitating bout of Irritable Man Syndrome may have made a passing remark comparing today’s venue Brendale, to North Korea. This was unfair. It is, of course, a hell of a lot easier to get out of North Korea. Forgive me comrades.
So, it’s back I go. Bravely north I return, over the border and behind the Un-ironed Curtain.
But who said I’m a slow learner (my parents, teachers, and ukulele instructor notwithstanding)? This time around, I have learned from my previous folly and I have come prepared. Not only do I know my exact destination but I have arrived with an umbrella, fold out chair and enough drinking water to bathe Clive Palmer at my disposal.
The crowd appears marginally down on last week, which brings me to one of the more intriguing factors of the weekly match reports…the crowd estimates. The official crowd figure from last week sits at 5,500. Now, though I can’t tell you whose job it is to provide that guess, I can tell you that he’s not about to win himself a jar of jelly beans anytime soon with that kind of form.
There is a vastly more noticeable presence of hired security today. For mine, these guys vie with Traffic Controllers for having the least demanding jobs available. I have a theory about traffic controllers. I’m convinced the Stop/Slow sign they brandish is actually for the road workers and not approaching motorists…but I digress.
These guys orbit the ground in a drone-like shuffle. Picture Nascar racing only, for elderly drivers. There are Police on hand so their official capacity appears to be largely cosmetic. The only discernible prerequisite I can attach to proudly wearing the cap and polo shirt appears to be: limited mobility and heavily inked forearms.
I make my way to the hill, which is not so much a hill and not quite a knoll either. It’s more a mild incline really. Its gentle elevation will mean that if anybody with an afro saddles up to the fence in front of me, I’m still going to have to move.
I lift my gaze to the parched and featureless hills that hug the ground. I think they may have filmed the second Mad Max here. Brisbane’s eternal summer continues and I marinade slowly under a thick gloss of sunscreen.
But at least there’s an irregular, swirling gale to stir things up a little. Each surprise attack sends an assortment of paper cups, napkins and the occasional frail child tumbling past my view. Mother Nature’s impeccable comic timing means that it really only seems to blow when I open my umbrella or try to read my book. I dare not consider starting a game of Jenga with the mood she’s in. In the briefest of unguarded moments my umbrella is inside out and rendered useless, much to the unbridled joy of the people around me.
It’s only then that I note the umbrellas logo, the law firm that represented me during my divorce. No wonder it folded at the first sign of resistance.
The Giants enter the arena to their Cossack themed anthem. I’ve written about it in articles past. I like it but I never quite know if I should dance, sing or wrestle a bear when I hear it.
The ball is heaved skyward and the Giants play their hand early. They want numbers in tight around the contest and it pays early dividends. This won’t be pretty.
Crash! Fan favourite (well, certainly this fan’s favourite) Tayla Harris crashes a pack. She is a ponytailed wrecking ball. Bodies are ejected like Shannon Noll from a nightclub. I just love watching her play. She’s Jonathan Brown with a manicure. Have I mentioned that she’s my favourite?
Another week and another wasted breeze in the opening quarter for the Lions. Is this the week they rue wasted opportunity?
Nicole Hildebrand’s attack on the approaching football is impressive. She provides the grunt to Virgo’s poise down back. This is a backline that won’t allow daylight to pass without written permission. Uncompromising and impenetrable, I would shout a compliment their way if I didn’t think they would just punch it out of bounds.
My day takes its now customary turn for the worse. A couple of inarticulate hill folk have taken up a permanent position right behind me. How is it that I constantly attract this caliber of involuntary companion? Perhaps it’s time I stop wearing Bundy Rum as a cologne. Their initial dialogue jumps from topics as wide ranging as girls, to drinking, to drinking with girls. All the while using profanity as punctuation. Beyond that their attendance appears driven largely by the desire to criticise women’s football. I don’t get it. Why even come? Surely there are Wooly Mammoths off in the surrounding foothills to hunt with spears?
Jessica Wuetschner is fearless and seems happiest when being trodden on. She yearns for the contest. I think she measures her performance in bruises.
Harris takes a slips catch of a mark that drags me out of my chair. She’ll win The Rising Star this year and probably Eurovision and Masterchef if she wanted to. She can do it all.
Jordan Membrey has been a welcome inclusion this week, giving the Lion’s forward line a little extra menace at ground level. This seems to permeate through the ranks, best displayed by a Selina Goodman tackle on the colossal Erin McKinnon for GWS. She clings to her, wearing her larger prey into submission in true lioness fashion until the whistle signals her reward.
The tackling of both sides has been a consistent highlight of the first half.
A delightful second quarter passage of play sees Frederick-Traub dish to Membrey and on to McCarthy with none involved breaking stride and it highlights a growing trend within the Brisbane ranks. They are getting a noticeably better spread from stoppages now and their transitions are quicker and more precise than previous weeks.
GWS aren’t playing poorly, their endeavor is commendable, they are simply being outclassed.
We have been treated to a wonderful display of overhead marking in blustery conditions. The winds herald a welcome cool change that take the Neanderthal twins with it, possibly in search of fire. It is only then that I notice the screaming of possibly Brisbane’s most persistently vocal supporter. With a voice that could grate cheese I think this woman might have taught Jimmy Barnes how to whisper. Her entire repertoire consists of three phrases: ”Come on Lions!” “Get it back!” and “Help her!” But not always in that order. She keeps it simple. I like that.
Frederick-Traub hacks a ripper out of congestion. She has threatened to tear a game apart for weeks. Those threats have become reality and those broad shoulders hold the floodgates asunder.
McCarthy’s blistering foot speed continues to trouble oppositions but how exactly do you shackle lightening?
If the Giant’s spirit wasn’t already decimated then a determined but no less cheeky individual effort from Kaitlyn Ashmore did the honours, soccering an unlikely goal from the pocket. The Lions converge in celebration to the synchronised slouching of GWS shoulders. They know this one’s over.
The last quarter is the Giant’s best. They look a competitive outfit when they take risks. Swanson and Tomkins flew the flag early hoping in vain for reinforcements that would never arrive. Even the skipper Farrugia is unusually quiet. The umpires help to conjure the Giants first major late in the day, perhaps less on merit and more for humanitarian reasons, but many patrons are too busy dismantling their shanty towns and mustering children to consider offering polite applause.
I will join them shortly in their bid for freedom but first I want to briefly savour the feeling of a 4-0 start to the season.
All eyes now to Norwood in South Australia. Hark now, all ye who dare to oppose. Something big from the north approaches.
Brisbane 0.3 1.7 4.7 6.7 (43)
GWS 0.1 0.1 0.3 1.3 (9)
Brisbane – McCarthy, Ashmore 2 , Frederick-Traub, Membrey 1
GWS – Stanton 1
Brisbane – Frederick-Traub, Zielke, Bates, Ashmore, Campbell, Hildebrand
GWS – Swanson, Tomkins, McKinnon, Dal Pos, Williams
Umpires: Belina, Valenti, Mirabile Crowd: 3,500
Our Votes: 3 Swanson (G), 2 Frederick-Traub (B), 1 Zielke (B)