WOODSMEN HOLD ON FOR 2 POINT THRILLER IN THE DARK!
The Woodies again followed their script this season on many fronts. On Thursday evening a strong looking squad of 25, including 3 emergencies was named - but by the time the ball was bounced, there had been 4 changes and only 21 Woodsmen were present at the ground!
Taking the field under what could politely be described as bedside lamps, the Woodsmen were pleased with the dark conditions given they were in the Senior clash strip and many of the 'older gents' were in a guernsey conservatively 2 or 3 sizes too small!
Once the game started (and eyes adjusted) the Woodies settled into their routine of again dominating through the midfield and maintaining field position, but failing to capitalise on the scoreboard. Hockley in his first game in 2017 was getting plenty of footy through the middle, Thomson was dominating the ruck battle and Curtis continued his purple patch of form with a 3rd straight dominant display. Sean Toohey was showingthe benefits of a week off, and was up and about early - with only his finishing costing him an opening term featuring multiple goals. Some trademark sidesteps and tackle busts certainly had the skipper turning back the clock.
Despite controlling the ball for long periods and very limited inside 50's from Morningside, the Woodies held only a 15 point lead at quarter time, and with Jake Fuentes unavailable and Irish Sammy Banim unable to get to the game, perhaps looked a little big and slow up front when the ball hit the ground.
The Woodies opened the 2nd term with more of the same, Gerard Moore presenting well across half forward along with Matt Garland and Jay Baker starting winning plenty of ball deep - but living up to his nickname 'The Butcher' missing a couple of opportunities close to goal. Though he was very unfortunate moments before the siren when he maroked on the goal line, turned around and kicked the goal only for the umpire inexplicably to decide he isn't permitted to play on?! When resetting the mark, he was then forced next to the behind post and the siren sounded - resulting in a checkside slamming into the goalpost and another goal gone begging for the Woodies!
As with the earlier encounter with a young Morningside outfit, the Woodies began to tire in the 3rd quarter and needed to maintain clear air at 3/4 time to hold on. Baker kicked his 2nd, and the Woodies maintained a 20+ point lead midway through the 3rd. Sam Long was again dominant across half back, Matty Prior was superb at ground level and Andrew Bell's 2nd and 3rd efforts were fantastic to see. Scott 'Burnsy' Matthews was also finding his feet in the Woodsmen defence after previously playing up front, and his clean ball use and composure was a feature.
The Panthers managed to snag a couple of late goals and their younger side was certainly running on top of the ground when the 3/4 time siren sounded.
Holding a 15 point buffer, the Woodies needed to work hard and maintain their ability to win possession at stoppages to lock the footy up and not get caught in a running battle. The Panthers managed the first goal of the quarter and it was game on. The Woodies won the next centre clearance and then managed to lock the ball forward for a long period before Garland snapped a beauty off his left to push the margin back beyond 2 goals.
Morningside hit back after a questionable 50m penalty and with Thomson suffering cramps, Garland moved into the ruck with Thomson dropped loose in defence. It proved a coaching masterstroke as Garland was able to lift the running intensity, while Morningsides previously quick ball movement was stunted as they looked up only to see a large man in a small white jumper blocking their forward entries (and perhaps the moon as well!)
The margin remained at 9 points, then 8 points for sometime before the Panthers scrubbed another one home after a free kick at the top of the goalsquare. Morningside won perhaps their only centre clearance of the game and again pumped the ball deep. In a repeat of the encounter earlier in the year, the Woodies were able to lock the ball down for repeat stoppages via strong discipline and committed tackling pressure. Eventually Long won the footy and Garland took a relieving mark and the siren sounded as Lachy Woods took what he considered to be a 'Leo Barry Mark' (only 100m from goal!) as the siren sounded.
Best: Curtis, Thomson, Moore, Garland, S.Matthews, Prior