With the inclement weather doing neither teams skilled players any favours, it would be up to the “differently abled players” to step up and keep the Goanna juggernaut rolling. The game started with a physical and even ruck, the ball tumbling to the ground with both midfields in hot pursuit. More accurate foreshadowing could not be asked for, including the harrying, chasing and pressure that allowed Lasty to win the ball. Dan Last again contributed in fine form. Not only running but bravely smothering a kick that left him sucking wind and producing a sound that could only be described as that of a drowning black hole.
The wind behind the Goannas in the first half meant a lead would be necessary, and sure enough it was gained through hard work and toughness in the midfield. Not to mention a little skill and grace by the resident big man. Dougy had excellent mark and kick to get the Goannas rolling early. The big, bald, beast continued to show his improvement.
There was other yeoman's work done First was his typically composed self, doing all the little things needed to keep the ball moving in the right direction. Daud, also smartly positioning and formed a one man maul, he simultaneously took out three of the powers in a single shepherd. Luke and Owen, were all over the ball, fighting for possession and desperately getting the ball forward whenever possible. Jarrod Woodward managing to free himself and collect good distribution from Oceans to kick one of his two sausage rolls.
The Powers fought back courageously in the second quarter, with the wind at their back, it took composed play from extreme veteran Travis “Arms” Wilson to calm things down and eek to the second half with the lead barely intact.
President/Manager Ghirra, who made decided the tactics early, an ineffective Bash warning that he wouldn't be up to it, Ghirra provided an elegant solution of “I'll just have Muzzle play the whole game”. When asked about his tactics, he said “I didn't want to have to think about it.” But think about it he did, moving the Muzzle into attack, the Melbourne man from Xavier College applied his comprehensive savvyto win marks and treat himself to a timely sausage roll. Sam as well, was all over the park, leading by example, the big ruckman stood toe-to-toe with his much younger opponent, and scared the powers off the ball on more than one occasion. Blairman Mao used every trick in his red book to win small victories all over the park. It was a great effort from the midfield as a unit.
The team first spirit was exemplified by Yuji 'Shirts Optional' Yamamoto, who kicked himself a goal, and lead well before moving to the backline to cover defensively. Yuji had his best game of the season. It might not have shown up on the scoreboard, but the pressure relief from marks and filling in all over the ground was Hyyoooj.
The Cirque de Soleil crowd more than did their part yet again, with Mitch popping up all over the synthetic field, and showing a bizarre level of respect to the referees; one can assume that the yellow leggings drew enough attention on their own. Brett was at the heart of it all game as per usual, virtually always Johnny on the spot to gain possession and move the ball forward. Brett gained more territory than an in-his-prime Genghis Kahn.
Not to be out-done, fellow key off season acquisition Luke Dillon showed that there really isn't much difference be kicking a round or oblong ball, so long as your ancestors are at least vaguely Irish. Great stuff from Lukey, showing why we need to get out and do a bit of Rocky-style road work. But step-for-step the Powers were there. Youth and fitness proving full value, the Powers were able to continually poach end of quarter goals to keep within striking distance.
The work was hardly done at three quarter time. The effort was there, but the third quarter performance was not anything like enough to win. Too many drops, misplaced kicks, and loose handballs meant the Goannas had been caught in possession far too many times. And they would now pay the price; a mere three goals up but facing a five goal wind.
For so long, Tokyo's favorite lizards have been the glamour team, with star players, 185cms tall who had played the game their whole life. This game was going to need grit and steel. It showed in the form of Keishi “KC” Imai. Playing by far, his best game of the season, KC was tireless in the chase composed with the ball, provided options and generally unwilling to give up on anything. It was his example that had the Goannas refusing to concede defeat. Every tiny victory in the midfield adding up, a block here, a deflection there, creating mistakes and denying the younger, fitter, Powers the time and space needed to catch up.
In my four years following this team, it was the toughest and grittiest performance I've ever witnessed this team win. It was perhaps a fitting send off for Steve Pendles Parma who was jumping out of his skin to get up the ground and create a contest all day. The big Parmigiana marked strongly and bagged a sosso with his first kick of the game and continued to apply pressure throughout the entire match. After being chaired off in what he had originally had said would be his last game before a mid-season trade to the Laos Elephants, the crumbed chicken breast dropped a bomb stating that he would in fact be available for the next match and was looking forward to being chaired off for a second time in two games. Audacious till the very end!
With Round 3 done and Dustin Martined, the Goannas attention now turns to the undefeated Tokyo Bay Suns who are also coming off a hard-fought victory of a competitive R246 Lions outfit. The boys will need to be at their best to come away with the spoils.