Woodsmen hit straps vs UQ
It was a case of giving the students a lesson on Friday night, when an experienced looking Woodsmen side took on 2016 Grand Finalists UQ at St Lucia in Round 3.
Right from the opening bounce, the Woodsmen were able to create and maintain midfield dominance and were finally able to convert this on the scoreboard, especially in a blistering opening to the 3rd quarter.
After some positional changes, including Paul Eaton to a wing, and Kiran Verma onto a half back flank – you could see from early on the Woodies had finally found some continuity in their play. Gerard Moore returning across half forward also certainly straightened up the attack, and the inclusion of livewire Jake Fuentes across half forward was a missing ingredient from the opening rounds – with his ability to get to the fall of the ball and apply pressure to the defenders crucial in locking the ball forward and ensuring a score.
UQmoved the ball forward early to kick the opening behind, before the Woodies immediately responded with a ‘coast to coast’ goal after quality ball movement through the middle resulted in an uncontested mark on the lead from Chris Mihalopoulous. It was more of the same, as Mika finished the opening quarter with 3 goals on the board and Fuentes chimed in with a fantastic crumbers goal after Scott Matthews was able to bring the ball to ground in a marking contest in the ‘hot spot’.
The flood gates were threatening to open in the 2nd term as UQ failed to get the ball forward, but the Woodies were guilty of going too wide in attack and occasionally bombing the ball in after slow ball movement. Nevertheless, the half time score was a solid 6.6 – 42 to 0.1 – 1 with UQ failing to score at all, or even threaten to score since the opening minute of the game.
The message at half-time was clear, UQ are a proud side and while the first half was one-way traffic – they would come out full of running and just 2 or 3 goals would have them right back in it. This was certainly true of the opening rounds, when the Woodies allowed oppositions back into the game after strong starts, so the boys were keen not to repeat the dose.
This time the Woodsmen certainly heeded the coaches message, with the Woodsmen banging home 4 quick goals in the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter to demoralise the opposition and get out to a 10 goal lead, with all 4 goals coming from clean centre clearances with a combination of Lachlan Woods inside feeding it to the evasive and highly skilled Sam Curtis on the outside to pump the ball forward under little to no pressure coming out of the centre of the ground. Scott Matthews was able to mark and goal, before his brother also produced a beauty to snap home a beautiful curling goal from the boundary line to the delight of the crowd.
UQ reacted by putting 2 back and then trying to slingshot forward and did enjoy some brief ascendancy late in the 3rd quarter as they kicked 3 straight behinds after managing to lock the ball in their forward 50 for the first time in the game, but were unable to convert their territorial advantage into a goal.
As the final quarter began, the Woodies again came out firing with Paul Eaton, Lochie McDonald and Kiran Verma working particularly well up one side of the ground. Many Woodsmen attacks were setup beautifully with drive from the half-back line, with Verma’s willingness to ‘give and get’ to break the lines likely resulting in a permanent positional change to the half back line while Paul Eaton’s size and athleticism, combined with his long kicking proving a great asset on the wing.
Disappointingly, as the heat came out of the contest – the Woodies weren’t able to achieve their half-time goal of keeping the opposition goalless, as UQ continued to push hard to the siren and managed to bang home a couple of quality goals midway through the last quarter before ‘Burnsy’ was able to put the cherry on top of a pleasing performance from the Woodsmen when he ran into an open goal to bang home his 2nd goal on debut to close out the game.
Woodsmen 13.12 – 90 defeated UQ 2.5 – 17
Best: Eaton, Thomson, Bell, Mihaloupoulos, Verma, Woods
Goals: Mihalopoulous 6, Moore, S.Matthews, Fuentes 2, G.Matthews 1