Gallant Pies run out of legs and class as Buddy and Cyril bite us on the ass

Footy came back with a huge bang as we went down to the Hawks in an epic opening round encounter that deserves a record length heading for a Floreat Pica Society match report.

 

The biggest question going into the game was how well our bottom six would handle the blowtorch heat of the Hawks’ kitchen. With our resources stretched to the max after a horror pre-season, we had no option but to play a couple of green teenagers in Paine and Yagmoor, alongside a further debutant in Seedsman.  On top of this, Rounds, Sinclair and the Sack were all fortunate to be playing seniors after ordinary pre-season form.

 

As Holly, her Hawthorn-supporting mate Bronte and I took our seats in the MCC, we had the pleasant surprise of the adjoining seats being occupied by Floreat Pica’s Andrew Fithall and his family. Andrew and I spent the pre-game swapping notes on footy and music (well, I soaked up his incredible music knowledge) while his wife Helen spent the evening playing the role of the voice of reason alongside two passionate middle-aged Pies.

 

The game started at finals-like intensity with a very hot footy.  We dominated the opening stanza in general play, but it was Groundhog Day as our forwards butchered scoring opportunities.  Travis missed a couple, The Beast missed a soda and Fasolo’s miss after the siren meant that a six-point lead was all we had to show for 15-7 inside 50s and 10-4 clearances. Ball, Blair, Swanny and Pendles were all prominent as Jolly continually gave us first use at the stoppages, while Heater led the cobbled-together defence with aplomb and Rounds was busy.  The sight of Reid staggering off after a heavy knock in the first five minutes sent a shiver down my spine, as did the sight immediately thereafter of Lachie Keefe briefly matching up on Buddy, but Reid returned later in the quarter.  It is difficult to know the impact of the knock as he had a poor night, being uncertain with his spoiling and kicking.

 

We dominated the early stages of the second quarter but again didn’t convert.  When Sinclair ran into goal and hit the point post from thirty metres straight in front I tugged at what sparse hair remains, as what should have been a four to five goal lead was only a couple of goals.

 

The game changed markedly about ten minutes into the second quarter, with what had been a tight contest with contested footy after contested footy, little space and few goals opening up and become a free-flowing end to end shoot-out which is not really our style.  We lost control of the game, and Cyril lit up the G with an extraordinary cameo in which he kicked goals, created space and stood on Heater’s head to pull in a screamer. Our defence yielded to the siege as too often we had too many spoilers and not enough crumbers when the spoils failed to clear the area. Harry was cut up by Cyril and when Dawes and Keefe allowed their rookie ruckman McCauley to mark between them in the goal square we looked in deep trouble. Fasolo kept us in the game with his own cameo of two goals in as many minutes before the Hawks kicked away again with late chances.  They were converting when they controlled the game when we had failed to do so.

 

Deep into the quarter, when we trailed by nine points, Travis dropped a chest mark 55 metres from goal and they rebounded out of defence to goal, meaning that we took in a 15-point deficit at the main break instead of a possible three points.  The way we had kicked in the first half it would have more likely been eight points, but it hurt.

 

After an early Pies goal from Pendles via an assist from Paine, the Hawks controlled the next minutes, and when we trailed 8.11 to 13.6 we again looked in trouble and that our poor conversion from an equal number of shots was killing us.  We had a magnificent remainder of the quarter, superbly led by a sublime quarter from Pendles, who did it all, gathering 12 possessions for the quarter. We controlled the clearances through Pendles, Jolly, Ball, Swanny, Blair and Sidey, who had a great quarter, and we were within six points at three-quarter time. Both times looked very tired, and had activated their subs, with Seedsman coming on for us and giving us some leg speed, albeit that his excitement got the better of his decision-making a couple of times.

 

Just as it had the night before when the Blues played the Tigers, the combination of round one match fitness levels, a warm evening and the intensity of the first three quarters meant that the game would break open in the last quarter and the clearances would be crucial. After the Hawks kicked the first goal we had a purple patch which saw us hit the front for the first time for the first time since midway in the second quarter.  It didn’t last long as the Hawks ran all over us, with Mitchell and Sewell completely taking over at the stoppages and our backline being ripped apart.  Fatigue and its impact on decision-making and skill execution hurt us as we made some shocking errors, highlighted by Reid’s kick-in that went out of bounds and came back straight over the goal umpire’s head,  followed by the Hawks going coast to coast from their kick-in.

 

It was obviously disappointing to lose, but overall an encouraging effort in a high standard contest.  Ultimately we left too much to too few and were bitten by the modest contributions of the bottom six, with the exception of The Sack, who gave a typically honest performance. My estimation is that we have got more room for improvement than the Hawks, and that both these sides will be right up there.

 

Plenty of positives for us – our overall competitiveness, our ability to come back twice when we looked in deep trouble, the form of a much fitter-looking Jolly, Blair looking like he can develop into a genuine midfielder-forward, Keefe was OK on Hale and getting some big match experience into the young blokes. Pendles is worth every cent it took to re-sign him and Ball was outstanding early and again had double-figure tackles as well as plenty of clearances. Travis took plenty of contested marks as usual.

 

A few less positive features – the goal kicking yet again, Rounds and Sinclair still don’t look up to senior level, Dawes continues to frustrate with his kicking and his failure to recognize that most of his goals used to come on the lead, and apart from his mark on the lead and missed shot in the first five minutes I didn’t see much of that. The backline was disorganized without the skipper (as well as Taz and Brown) and our kick-ins highlighted the absence of Leon and need a lot of work.  For all that we were in the game until half way through the last quarter.

 

Of the debutants, Yagmoor didn’t fire a shot, but Paine was better in the second half and looks a good forward proposition with time and Seedsman has talent and dash. The other debutant was a bloke called N Buckley – you would have to say that he had a pretty good night, the early dominance we didn’t capitalise on would indicate that our plans were pretty spot on.  Interesting to note that we had 151 interchanges, which will probably have Adrian Anderson grinding his teeth.

 

I reckon that there will be some very sore bodies after that game and it is a good thing we have an eight-day break.  One of our challenges now is to stagger the return of the blokes coming back from injury, making sure that we get enough game time into them and don’t have too many underdone players in the same senior team.

 

Votes for the prestigious 2012 Michael Horsburgh medal :

 

3 – Pendles

2 – Blair

1 –  Jolly

 

Finally, a bouquet and a brickbat to the ground administrators. It was great to not see gambling ads on the scoreboard, a welcome absence.  On the less positive side, the video tribute to Jimmy Stynes was played one hour before the game to a largely empty stadium.  Immediately pre-game or at half-time would have been better times to honour one of the game’s great figures before a huge crowd.

 

Looking forward to next week, and to all our returning players getting through this afternoon’s VFL game unscathed.

 

Floreat Pica

Comments

  1. Andrew Fithall says:

    A pleasant evening Steve, despite the result. I agree with all your observations and assessments, except one – the assessment of what you call my incredible musical knowledge. I do not have a great knowledge. Last night it just happened that the pre-game (and half-time) music was by a band called Even, who happen to be one of my favourites, and so I happen to know a little about them. I would never have me on a music trivia team. I am hopeless.

    I did enjoy your comment: “I ike football. I like music. But I don’t like music at the football.”

  2. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Steve, for a loss I was not too disappointed. Replace Rounds and Sinclair with Beams and Wellingham, Didak for Yagmoor Tarrant for and we suddenly have a pretty potent side.

    We must bite the bullet and play Wood or get games into Witts because Jolly will be gone by mid season if he has to carry the ruck load.

    Dawes needs to find his inner beast again because there was too much superficial beauty on show Friday night. Daisy was flat and Swanny, though prolific was errant in his disposal. Thought Goldy played a great game and would like to see Bucks give him a solid go this year.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    **Tarrant for Keefe, anyone for Keefe! 204cms and playing at Fullback with 1 kick for a whole game? Only Presti could get away with that stat.

  4. Rick Kane says:

    It was a great game. The Hawks had to win that one, particularly after the Pies fought back and took the lead in the last quarter. Two observations I made of the Pies (acknowledging that it is only Round 1):

    1. The Pies weren’t well paced to run out the game. They ran in bursts but tired too quickly. Hence, the Hawks were able to come back strongly in the last 20 minutes.
    2. There is a noticeable gap between the Pies best players and the rest. The Hawks appear to have a more evenly balanced set of players.

    By the by, I would not be pushing the argument that the loss was mainly due to missing players that strongly. The Hawks were without Hodge (like missing Pendles), Roughead, Young, Gilham, Puopolo, Murphy and Bailey (we had a first timer ruck against the mighty Jolly). It was a great game and on this occasion the Hawks took it right up to the Pies and beat ’em. I’m looking forward to the next time we meet. Cheers

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Congrats Rick,

    if we’re both closer to full strength next time it should be beauty. Thought the Hawks’ disposal was much more consistently precise for longer periods of the game.

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