The first match of R9 carried the biggest implications of the day and up until now the season. It was simple; win and your Grand Final hopes are alive. Lose, and wonder what could have been? What two better teams to do it than the representative San Francisco clubs. On a scorching hot day at the Concord Cricket Ground, the Knights were coming off an embarrassing loss to the then winless Pirates and found themselves in a situation that they didn’t need to be in – fighting to keep their finals chances alive. While the Seals too have had a rollercoaster ride of a season. Looking the part in their wins and scratching their heads at not being able to score points in their losses. Both sides called in the reserves and wanted to be as prepared as possible for this Civil War. In a gentlemanly manner, both teams chose to waive their rights to draft picks and surmised the outcome would be decided by the team original players. In an all too familiar position for the Seals, they found themselves saying goodbye to yet another staple member of their club – Captain Yeezee. Yeezee has accepted a 3 year 4.9 million AUD contract with the LA Dragons and will be refinancing his contract after year one while in Business School. The accolade was recognized in standard Seals fashion by sending him out for the captains handshake in rainbow colored socks that were stitched together the Seals debutants.
The opening bounce proved no further insight to the competition as both teams fought hard for the footy. First gamer Josh Goldsmith opened the scoring with a major score from deep inside the pocket. A good sign for the Seals as confidence was building. The Knights quickly responded with a goal of their own and the teams traded several minor scores heading into the first break. In the second term, the flood gates burst open. Another tall order for Carl Chatfield to play on another GGAFL All Star. Chatfield contested and contended to his best abilities, but with limited support. GGAFL Leading Goal Kicker Chris Shoey was a force to be reckoned with. Shoey took marks with ease in the forward line and began to kick goals at will. Despite the ruck work of everyone’s favorite player Tim Lindfelt, the Seals were now in panic mode. Seemingly easy marks were being fumbled, cumbing footballs on the deck were being soccered, and the rotating ruck work of Knights Chris Goy and I’m A Little Tea Cup seemed to wear out the workhorse Timmy. The hitting in the second quarter began to pick up and the mantra of “next goal Seals” was becoming too audible on the ground. The Knights went into the half with a 6 goal lead.
With the season on the line and colorful socks to live up to, the Seals wanted to get back in the game, but the 3rd quarter was simply the Danger Zone. Danger Oneil got the footy at will. Bursting out of the middle with booming clearances into the forward line. From the solid backline work of Fullback Uppers taking marks, one handed scoops, and bursting off the backline with several bounces and leaving the opposition asking “what are you doing mate?” while holding onto the collar of the Uppers jumper. Uppers simply responded with, “playing football mate!” The combination of Kiwi and Falko spoils, and break out games from Kyle Gillis and a resurrected Collarbone Free Joe D. helped Johnny Becks have a slippery and quiet 4 goal game. Jack Tse and Vegas Prescott had some solid games for the Seals with 15+ disposals each and several handy plays streaking through the field. Unfortunately, with percentage points being a large factor and the Knights smelling blood in the Seal infused water, the 3 quarter time lead ballooned to double digit major scores for the Knights.
At this point it was a matter of pride for both clubs. With the ball staying in the forward line of the Knights for the remainder of the game and being pumped through the big sticks, the Seals hung their heads in desperation. With a glimmer of hope, the ball was booted into space and the Ranga Race was on – Rayzor and Noamy sprinted out for the footy in a heated contest. With a little help from his friend Kiwi, Noamy booted the ball up field and in a topsy turvy play, Swampy Chynoweth was able to find the score sheet and soccer a ball off the ground. As the final siren blew, the Seals couldn’t get out of there fast enough and look toward next round and finishing the season at .500. While the Knights relished the victory and embrace the opportunity to play for a spot in the Grand Final in July.
Knights: Shoey 7, JB 4, Danger 4, Chyna 1, Travis 1, Skaugy 1, Clint 1
Seals: Josh Goldsmith 2
In the second match of the day, the Hornets were the heavy favorites in the last game of the season. Percentage points were the value of the match after the Knights win earlier. The Hornets showed up ready to play. Unfortunately, the Grand Final runner up’s from 2014 did not. It has just been that kind of season for the Pirates. However, Coach Quirky was determined to continue career high hand balling season and picked up several players to help out his side in the draft. With a strange opening bounce formation, the Pirates stacked all their players in the midfield and backfield in an attempt to prevent the Hornets from blitzing them with runners. The famous quote of “offense wins games, defense wins championships” was a Pirate creed. However, no one told Quirky that this wasn’t a championship and you need to have forwards to kick to in order to score goals and win a game.
The solid play of Max Wilson and newest ruckman Marcus gave the Hornets all the sting they needed. With the center clearances being dominated by the Hornets, Joe Feeny continued his fantastic rookie campaign with another goal while the Horse strutted around the pitch like he owned the place. From was bone crushing hits, big marks over everyone’s least favorite player Bryan Dragus, and improving on his previous 1.39 kicks from set shots on the season to bang home a 3.0 scoring for the day. Clarky was vintage Clarky as he was able to crumb from the center and set up plays all around the field.
With the win, the Hornets have sealed their first Grand Final appearance since 1908, who now battle the Chicago Cubs for the longest championship drought in professional sports. With several weeks off before the last round of the metro league, we all are left wondering: Do the Pirates have one more win in them for the end of the season? Will the Seals bring more ice cream sandwiches to the comp? Which long forgotten Mav will turn up for their next game? Can all the Knights players remember the words to their victory song? And will the Hornets bring more than 8 players to their Grand Final appearance? We shall wait and see.
Hornets: Clarky 5, Horse 3, Tom Graham 2, Brado 1, Feeny 1, Rob Boyle 1, Macca 1
Pirates: Cooper 3, Quirky 0