The Game They Play in Hell

WEST COAST EAGLES v HAWTHORN

Subiaco Oval; 5.40pm; Saturday 21 April 2012

Football’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.  Mrs Gump certainly knew a thing or two about AFL.  The Dockers showed heart and spirit on Friday night.  Go figure.  This week the Blues managed to do what the Magpies couldn’t – shut Tony Robb up.  He’s grabbed his swag and headed for the Brindabellas for the week.

And I can’t remember a game that I had looked forward to as much as tonight.  I knew the Hawks were a very good team, and I thought my Eagles were.  But who could tell after the Eagles played the Manangatang Thirds in the first 3 rounds.  What I was sure about, was that this would be a sublime display of skill and running, just like the First Round dazzler between the Hawks and Pies.  Cyril (my secret fave), Buddy, Nic Nat – what an array of talent. 

Perth has scarcely seen a drop of rain since Christmas, and while clouds scudded all day, the Bureau had assured us it would be 25° and fine.  As we settled into our seats it began to mist, then drizzle, and as the game started it was proper rain.

Quarter time score – 8 points to 4. France in front, though the Welsh had plenty of possession.  This was a quarter that made the World Cup semi-final look open and flowing.  My man Josh Kennedy provided the highlight right on the siren.  To date he had missed set shots from 30 out and rubber chested marks in the goal square.  But nothing that would stand out on JK’s Magic Moments tape.  With a minute to go in the quarter, he collected the ball clear in the forward pocket 30 metres out.  As the sole Hawks defender rushed to close him down, 2 unguarded Eagles presented at the top of the goal square.  Josh considered his options.  The previous time he tried to pass to a team mate in the clear, he had missed him by 10 metres.  He wasn’t going to make that mistake again.  So he ignored them both, ran to the 20, blazed and missed.

Then things took a turn for the worse.  Half time score – the Welsh had hit the front 19-12, with 2 converted tries.  The French yet to put one over the uprights.  I tried to make sense of the nonsense.  Was it the flood; the press; the squeeze or had we gone totally Ra Ra and adopted the rolling maul?  In the end I opted for the rolling squeeze.  All half there were constantly 36 players within 40 metres of the ball.  As the ball wandered up and down the ground, the rolling squeeze followed like a faithful shadow.  The slippery ball and greasy surface didn’t help as it prevented the swift, sure ball movement necessary to break the choker hold.

The second half briefly threatened to turn into Australian Rules with the Eagles converting 2 in the first 5 minutes, and then Scott Selwood missed a sitter from straight in front to return the game to normality.  Hawthorn dominated possession for long periods, but Buddy demonstrated that he has a finer hook than Bubba Watson.  Having run into open goals and wastefully skidded the ball off the wet turf against the Cats on Easter Monday, he demonstrated that he had since been working hard on his technique.  He should have it worked out by Christmas.

Brad Sewell got a free 30 metres out on the siren.  He naturally missed, and at the last change the French were back in front 31-28 (3 converted tries to 2).  Bubba missed from in front to start the last quarter, and then the cool heads asserted themselves for the Eagles.  Jack Darling bombed 2 from on the 50, and Daniel Kerr (who was clearlyBOG) slotted a quick snap from a ball up.  The French were 18 points clear, and decided to retreat to their trenches and guard the Maginot Line.

The digging seemed to fire up Cyril Rioli who had cunningly hid in a rabbit hole in the forward pocket all match.  He showed Bubba the correct way to do the side foot, end over end dribbler.  Then Nic Nat fearlessly charged the pack to take out 2 stunned team mates, leaving Cyril to jump out of his rabbit hole to mark unopposed and goal.

In the City End Stand I turned to Mademoiselle L’Avenger D’Eagle and muttered “Merde”.  We were only 5 points clear, so a converted try could steal this for the coal miners.  Nerves jangled but my new favorite player Wreckless Eric Mackenzie took a steadying pack mark over Bubba to seal the match.

Les Bleus and Golds triumphed by 5 points in a game that should have the Barbarians and the Crusaders looking nervously over their shoulders come finals time.

The form comment reads “Hawks need firm surface to show best.  Always seem to find one better.  Bubba is a fine sprinter, but needs to pass the baton more as relay is a team sport.”

“Bleu Eagles showed heart in a driving finish.  Really know how to find the line.  Early season WFA form can be deceptive, but impossible to get past at Ascot.”

The stand out player on the ground was Daniel Kerr.  The tough, hard conditions suited him down to the ground, and it was one of his best games in recent years.

Eric Mackenzie is strong and pressured Bubba into mistakes all game.  Waters and Glass were both strong in defence.  Gaff ran tirelessly in a game where the other Eagles midfielders struggled.  Jack Darling contested hard all game, and again showed he keeps his head when others (notably Josh, Quinten and Bubba were losing theirs).

For the Coal Miners I thought Jordan Lewis was in every contest bar the half time mini league.  Mitchell and Guerra got a lot of the ball.  My impression was that most of their fringe players are only triers, and that unless Bubba, Cyril or Hodge have a day on – there is not much from the supporting cast.

A very strange game, not helped by the conditions, and the similarly ruthless game plans of both coaches.  Both teams will need to lift when they meet the All Blacks in the Final.

WC Eagles (Les Bleus)      0-8        0-12      2-16      5-21(51)

Hawthorn (Pit Ponies)     0-4        2-7        3-13      5-16(46)

Converted Tries:

Les Bleus: Darling 2, Kerr, Hill, Kennedy 1

Coal Miner’s Daughters: Rioli 2, Lewis, Osborne,Franklin 1

Votes: Kerr (3); Mackenzie (2); Lewis (1)

Comments

  1. Rock Wiz was sensational last night.

    The bonus was it had nothing to compete with on other stations.

  2. Tony Robb says:

    Dear Mr B
    Dad was kind of strange yesterday. Kept on mumbling about turnovers so I guess that why he left a note saying he would gone for some time in search of recipes for humble pie. I thought turnovers were different to pies. Hopefully he will have eaten it all before next weekend
    Regards
    Dylan Robb

  3. Tony Robb says:

    The ARU wished to disassociate itself from any resemblance that last nights game had to the fine game of Rugby

  4. Andrew Starkie says:

    Saturday night’s ABC Crime Fest. Never miss it.

  5. Dave Nadel says:

    I’m with you Andrew. At the end of each ABC program I briefly switched to 7. The scores didn’t make sense but they did suggest that the game was not going to be great to watch – so I didn’t.

  6. watt price tully says:

    Usually the crime fest takes priority at our abode, unless Collingwood or Essendon are playing. Mrs WPT & the youngest – an Arts Student what do you expect? have found new footballing passion this year – yes mixed marriages.

    So we didn’t watch WCE game – (great report / enjoyable reading Peter B), I was forced to endure watching the replay of Essendon beating Carlton. Eine Kline Shineh Shadenfreude. Wasn’t such a bad night really.

  7. Jeff Dowsing says:

    Love the report Peter, my option of watching the last two episodes of Dexter Series 5 appears vindicated.

    Winning a game having not raised two flags by half time must be a world first.

  8. WPW,

    is it true the Blues have changed their song to ‘I’m Inclined To Knackered Music’?

    (Cheap and Tacky I know, but I just couldn’t help myself. You started it)

  9. The AFL should step in and suspend points from that game. Maybe give them one premiership point each. I hate it when our brand gets damaged like that.

  10. The most difficult thing about trying to watch this game was putting up with Taylor et. al. on the “commentary team”.

    As the contest was locked down so much, it gave them more freedom to rabbit on about anything and everything not to do with the game on the park.

    Bring back Channel 10!

  11. A positive for the Hawks was that Schoenmakers actually won a one-on-one marking contest.

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