Undermanned Woodsmen snatch late draw
On Friday night in wet conditions, an undermanned Woodsmen side cobbled together late on Friday headed north to take on undefeated competition leaders the Sandgate Hawks and toughed it out until the end to salvage a draw when all looked lost, with the final scores locked at 6.14 - 50 to 8.2 - 50, with the usually inaccurate Woodsmen picking the right night to kick straight!
The Woodsmen again has 5+ changes, with 10 regulars unavailable but some very useful inclusions to fill the void. Young Riley Easton made his Woodies debut as he continues his comeback from a knee reconstruction and was handy up forward and on-ball with his clean skills at ground level. Older head Corey Hopkins also played his first game for the Woodies and was solid across half-back and regular senior leading goalkicker Alex Dickfos also played his last game in Magpie colours before heading to London, and contributed an important late goal. The final debutant was Chris 'Fatty' Devlin on permit from Ipswich after playing 2016 in the Magpies Reserves. Fatty thrived in the tough conditions to consistently win the ball and get it going forward at all costs. Rounding out the list of debutants was Simon 'Squizzy' Taylor who was useful in the back half and short stints through the middle.
The opening quarter was a learning process for the Woodies as the team adjusted to yet another round of mass changes, while Sandgate got out to an early lead before the Woodies pegged them back with 2 straight goals.
The 2nd quarter was more of the same, with Sandgate having the better of field position and gain failing to take their chances to kick an identical 2.3 from the first quarter to go into half time with a 4.6 to 4.1 lead as the Woodies continued to take advantage of limited chances. McCewen was solid in the ruck, while Fatty and Sam Curtis were winning their fair share of footy only to see it rebounded back. Hopkins and Long in particular were getitng plenty of the footy to keep the Woodies in the game, but there was a risk the floodgates could open and the Woodies needed to keep pushing and taking their chances.
The 3rd quarter was another slug fest, with a majority of the play between the arcs - however, late in the quarter the Hawks had the chance to open up a commanding lead but again failed to take their chances kicking 1.4 for the quarter, to the Woodsmen 1 straight goal to be down by 9 points at the final break.
All looked lost midway through the last when the Hawks had dominant field position and got out to a 19 point lead, however the Woodies had never dropped a game to Sandgate and weren't about to give away this commanding record. Long was dominating across half back and pushing up through the middle to lock the ball forward and the midfield was beginning to get on top and Garland and Dickfos continued to present quality targets despite the wet conditions.
Long was able to push forward to kick his first goal in his Woodies career, but with less than 2 minutes on the clock and the margin at 12 points, it looked like too little too late. However, the Woodies again pushed the ball forward for a strong mark in the goalsquare before calmly slotting the goal to close the margin. Sandgate looked panicked and after being repeatedly run down by the Woodies in recent years, the boys could sense their fear!
The ball went back to the centre and the Woodies won a crucial clearance, before Verma kicked it forward from the wing and big G Moore took a telling grab about 55m out from goal. With the square empty and the clock ticking down its final seconds he swung around the man on the mark and drilled it home from the 50m line to level the scores!
Woodsmen 8.2 - 50 drew with Sandgate 6.14 - 50
Goals: Garland 3, Dickfos, Mihalopoulos, Verma, Moore, Long 1
Best: Long, Curtis, Dickfos, Devlin, Bell, McCewen