Woodsmen consolidate 2nd spot
The Woodies secured their place in the Top 2 on Friday night with a hard fought win over a plucky UQ outfit in a scrappy affair.
The Woodsmen side were dominant around the ball, and had quality passages of play at times – but also lacked polish going forward on occasion and ill-discipline resulted in 4 of the 6 opposition goals coming from 50m penalties.
One key issue for the Woodies in particular was an inability to establish control at the centre bounce. Despite clear ruck dominance throughout the match, the Woodsmen repeatedly lost the centre clearances and were often on the back foot as a result and unable to get flow into their game as they constantly had to work the ball back from defence. Strangely, it was a different story around the ground at stoppages as many clearances into space were won with quality tap work and superb voice from the on-ballers at ground level.
In his 2nd game for the year, Matt Hockley worked his way into the game nicely on the ball and also spent time forward providing a solid target – while Matt Garland had his best outing this year with a quality display across half forward. With Gerard Moore out of the side and Matt Garland into the on-ball rotations, the Woodies did have issues straightening themselves up when Garland went on the ball and there was no tall target around the arc.
Jay Baker worked hard both in the air, and with some quality pressure at ground level for a big man – and with 3 games now under his belt for the year after 2 years out the game – is ready to explode into the 2nd half of the year as the teams spearhead. Chris Mihalopoulos wasn’t prolific, but provided a great leading target, taking plenty of grabs up and around the 50 before regularly finding teammates deep with pinpoint passes and being the source of 4 or 5 goals as a result.
Paul Eaton was again experimented with on the wing, and he provided some highlights with his big ‘don’t argue’ fends and his long kicks into the forward-line, while on the other wing – Elliott Heath in his 2nd game for the club really put his body on the line in plenty of contests to impress his new teammates.
Kiran Verma again switched to half back and provided plenty of run, while the ever reliable combination of Tim Green and Sammy Long were masters of the air and provided quality rebound with their willingness to switch play.
Down back, Matty Prior was his usual reliable self – while Blake Barkley just continues his rich vein of form in 2017 with another quality display. Special mention must also go to Andrew Bell who at full-back attacked the footy hard, and has really overcome some previous deficiencies in his game to regularly beat his opponent and provide drive out of deep in defence with his bullocking runs.
The Woodies were at times struggling to put their opponents away, but stuck to the task and eventually got their ball movement working. UQ reduced the margin to just 15 points early in the last quarter, before a 5 goal burst from the Woodies put the game to bed to secure a 12.12 – 84 to 6.3 – 39 victory.
McDonald also had one of his best games in 2017, putting his long kicking to good use and backing him kicking skills around the ground. Slotting one from the 50m line on the run early in the game was bettered late in the last, when Davis took a mark on the edge of the centre square – handballed off to McDonald who hit the top of the net with a booming shot from well outside 50 to put the opposition away. The goal umpire barely moved!
Best: Garland, Curtis, McDonald, Davis, Bell, Hockley
Goals: Curtis, Banim, McDonald, Baker 2, Mihapolous, Fuentes, Hockley, Garland 1