The new year has also brought about some changes in the Goannas lineup and leadership. Former coach Tom Bowes has taken on a more administrial role as our 2018 club president/back pocket plumber, we thank him for his service and innovative coaching style (bringing cones to training, a first for the club!). Club stalwart Sam Ghirardello has retaken the reigns as coach for the 2018 season and has been demanding a smarter, cleaner style of footy this year. Further leadership changes come as the Last brothers and Captain and Vice Captain Daniel and Andrew are making an exodus for hotter and colder climates respectively. Stepping up to the mantle this year as Co-Captains are Peter Chalmers and Yuji Yamamoto. After a rousing yet concise co-captain’s rev up the boys took the field.
The Goannas lost the toss and were kicking against a four goal breeze in the opening quarter, subsequently they went into the first quarter break down four goals to one. Admittedly slow out of the blocks the Goannas were having trouble getting it out of the middle and it seemed that the ball lived in the Hawks forward line for the first 10 minutes of the game, where the Hawks kicked the opening four goals. The tide seemed to change a little when half way through the first quarter Captain Pete went back with the flight creating a big contest from which the ball spilled out and then applying the next bone crunching tackle to allow the Goannas to run the ball forward for a trade mark Andy Last drop punt goal on the run. And some people call him Weak Pete!
A bit of reassurance from the coach to back our skills running the ball out of defense and that the team that put their head over the ball and drove it forward was going to win this contest. The message didn’t fall on deaf ears, midfield trio Andy ‘Firsty’ Last, Anthony ‘Oceans’ Huynh and new recruit Yuki ‘Yooks’ Saito rolled up their sleeves to give the Goannas first use from the middle. Oceans’ in and under work saw him end up with a face dirtier than Roppongi Dori at 6am on a Sunday! Time after time he and Yuki flicked the ball out to the running man Firsty who seemed to endlessly boot the ball inside 50. These efforts out of the middle resulted in the Goannas piling on 5 goals straight to get themselves back in the game. Renowned goal kickers Chris ‘Poppy’ Poppe and ‘Pistol/Father/Weak/Pot-shot/Elite’ Pete Chalmers added three goals between them. While Wingman Lasty, a Goanna better known for missing the unmissable in homage to his beloved Saints added a back to back goals including a delightful snap from a one-two handpass chain with his younger brother that was definitely on purpose and in no way a fluke. The Shaka celebration of the goal was much deserved. At half time the Goannas were right back in it and only down by four points.
After the long break the big boys got involved Ruckmen Rory ‘better than Lobbe’ O’Driscoll and Ghira imposed themselves on the contest with big hit outs and bigger tackles. Forwards Big Al Wyatt and Jared ‘J-Boy’ Barnes provided a great target up forward bringing the ball to ground on numerous occasions to allow the wingers Ari ‘Rimmer’ Forsyth and Poppy to have numerous shots at goal with the ‘Popstar’ crumbing another excellent goal from a stoppage. But for all of their efforts the Goannas still went into the final quarter down 17 points as the Hawks booted three further goals from one-out marks at full forward. Despite their tenacity and back line connect defenders Yuji and Lukey Dill needed to tighten up and they needed some mates in defence.
Coach Ghira spun the magnets at three quarter time. Captain Yuj into the ruck with the coach going down back to play tight man on man against the leading goal kicker for the Hawks. The move worked the Hawks were kept goalless in the final quarter while the Co-Captain Yuj got involved around the ground providing a great link up target. The last quarter was a brutal affair. Bodies were crashing in with four points on the line. A quick snap from the contest saw Oceans run on to an open goal in the square, while Poppy snapped another for his fourth for the game. The man some call Elite Pete kicked a timely Captain’s goal to bring the Goannas within a point with minutes remaining.
From here Hawks seemed unable to get the ball out of their defense with the Goannas setting up a great wall with Ghira and Lukey Dill behind the ball. The wall was exemplified as Best on Ground Firsty pulled down a screamer on the far wing over two Hawks in the best mark in a drawn match since Brendon Goddard’s grab in the Grand Final Draw! As Firsty drilled the ball back into the forward line the players were unaware they were down by one and needed a score to level or goal to take the lead. The Hawks scrounged it out of defence before it was pumped back inside 50 again. This time the Goannas managed a shot on goal with the snap from Oceans almost providing the miracle goal for the lead. Alas it was called a point and scores were equal with a 30 seconds left. After the kick out the Goannas forced another contest and the ball spilled to Poppy about 40 meters out under immense pressure, sensing the moment he instinctively threw it on the boot just as the siren sounded and all players, umpires and fans alike watched in silence as the goal sailed through...tragically for the Goannas one second too late.
Hands on heads, bodies hunched over and exhausted, a sense of uncertainty and confusion filled the ground. Not exactly how most JAFL games finish for the Goannas, but this was the result that such a tight game deserved. After the hand shakes and pats on the back talk turned straight back to where do we go from here. Coach Ghira promised a focus on hard, contested footy at training as it seems obvious that the good old days of free running, bruise free JAFL footy are long gone. Bring it on we say!
BEST - A Last, D Last, A Huynh,
Goals - C Poppe 4, D Last 2, P Chalmers 2, A Huynh 1, A Last 1
Written by Daniel Last.