Minutes after the 25-point defeat to a spirited Komazawa Magpies unit, the Goanna men formed a circle around Rob Scarlett. Albeit a family club, there was no kidding about this time. Dress rehearsal or otherwise, the performance was not good enough. There was work to be done, and the boys were told in no uncertain terms.
After working tremendously hard to build a handy 17-point lead going into the last quarter, the Goanna engine blew up and barely spluttered to the finish line. Failing to register a point, 12 scoring shots to zero is a damning statistic.
The Goannas did well to counteract their faster oppositions speed for most of the match with some hard hitting play but in the final term the dam wall certainly crumbled if not disappeared completely.
Although in the cold light of day there should be no excuses, injuries were a factor and remain a factor leading into the Grand Final which, incidentally, is only a few days away.
Mikey Liddell is in a race against time to recover from what was thought to be a season ending tibia injury. The mid-season trip to Arizona and imported ice have aided a miraculous recovery and he will only need to pass a final fitness test involving lugging an anvil up a hill.
Bash Brother is still recovering after a kamikaze run at the ball. It happened when new interchange manager John Avent yelled out his birth name ‘James’ during the match. Not responding to the calls, team treasurer Lorien Parker suggested they call out the name ‘Bash’ instead. Avent looked quizzically at her and asked ‘Why?’
No sooner had the words come out when Bash came flying through the air thundering into a taken aback Magpie. There were nought but knowing glances all around soon after. Unfortunately, the incident left his shoulder hanging by a thread ahead of his highly anticipated rematch with Dingo strongman Jon Cooper.
Adding to the list of worrying injuries, Luke Eyes turned his ankle just about 360 degrees after neglecting the usual strapping prematch. It is understood he is considering the risk of using Mikey Liddell’s imported ice to get right for the game.
Also, Dan McGrath, who has perhaps the most famous shoulders since Chris Judd’s chicken wing victim Leigh Adams, was rested in the last quarter as a precautionary measure. Club sources are saying he should be fit in time to play.
Jimmy Morvell and Mitch Ainsworth are looking good after a few niggles with the former suffering from a pinched nerve while Mark Graham is battling a hamstring strain sustained during the last game.
On the positive side, Mike Milton is steadily getting back to full fitness and Dan Last got a chance to give his new pectoral muscles a decent run. After spilling his first two marks due to his chest being a lot bigger than usual, Lasty finally got into the groove and has shown no trouble with his upper body physique lately. It seems Travis ‘Arms’ Wilson has given the strapping young lad some advice on how to counter elite muscles.
Despite all that didn’t go to plan against Komazawa though, nobody would be complaining. It is Grand Final week and the Goannas have just completed their final training at TIS, confident they have tied up any loose ends.
Injuries will be no excuse come the last Saturday in October. The Dingoes are a formidable team, not to mention the reigning premiers. To win, the Goannas will need to counteract their ruck dominance. Jon Cooper and Brett Snowden are the Cox and Nic Nat of the competition. A lot will be relied on players such as Tex (Alex Niebruegge) who has improved out of sight.
The Dingoes forward line will be up and about as usual. Drew Moon, Genki, and their talls have been their strength and the Goannas are hoping a solid back unit will turn up. Craig Huddleston, Morvell, Lasty, Bash, Richard Binnie, David Ogilvy, Dan Atkins and Andy Peyton have been solid throughout the year at different stages. The rebounding from defense will become pivotal later on in the game when legs start to tire.
Up forward, the triple towers of McGrath, Arms, and Alex ‘Behemoth’ Wyatt should provide a focal point for the midfield brigade. Much will rely on the centre clearances which is where the last game between these two sides was won and lost – most of the goals coming directly from centre breaks.
However, in the end, you suspect what it will really all come down to are two things: courage and gumption.
Passion alone won’t be enough. You can bet your bottom dollar that every man and his dog will be brimming with passion and desire. What will triumph above all else will be the courage to take responsibility with the ball. The courage to trust your instincts. The courage to put behind your mistakes.
Along with a big heart, it is the team who is shrewd enough to take initiative in the most spirited of manner that will likely prevail. Calculated risks that could turn the game on it’s head. Helping a teammate out when it could potentially cost you personally. That is gumption.
So, as it stands, it is absolutely anybody’s game right now. Two teams who hold no fear of one another. There will be no underdog when the ball is bounced. It could be Ali and Frazier. On Saturday, for these two heavyweights, there will be no tomorrow.