Tigers triumphant over reigning premiers
Round 1 of the new AFLCNE season kicked off on Saturday 26th of April at North Shields RFC. The Tigers in their first season hosted reigning AFLCNE league champions the Leeds Minotaurs. The Tigers had completed their pre-season with good form against quality opposition. So enthusiasm was high, building up to the match, with the Club able to field a strong side and a full bench of rotations.
Friday night had seen heavy lashing rain on Tyneside and though this had lifted by kick-off, conditions remained slippery. The opening quarter saw the Tigers get their claws stuck into the undermanned Minotaurs and scoring 6 goals into a slight wind to the visitors 3. The Tigers were on top out the middle and making the most of forward entries with good forward play by debutant Marc Anthony Coombes and Karl Bulmer.
In the 2nd quarter the Tigers continued their good drive from the centre, particularly captain Liam Robinson and Smoggy Colbeck. Constant rotations around the ground kept the Tigers players fresh. But unlike the first quarter, the tigers squandered their shots and only kicking 3 goals 7 behinds.
At half time in the warmth of the change rooms Tigers coach Ian Baxter reminded the team that Leeds, although missing key players from last year premiership, still had quality players and to expect them to hit back. As the second half began coach Baxter’s warning became reality and Leeds dug deep to win a lot of ball and drive off their back line. Leeds adopted an open forward line and with a handy forward made life difficult for the Tiger defenders. This coincided with Tigers ill discipline toward the umpire resulting in two goals from 25m penalties. The Tigers only managed 1 goal in this quarter, while Leeds piled on 5 to go in to the final quarter only trailing by a single goal.
The final team talk all the players huddled in and Coach Baxter and Captain Robinson demanded that the group became accountable and aive everything they had for the final 20 minutes. Leading from the front the opening minute of the final quarter, saw a quick clearance and a goal from the Tigers Captain. The Tigers were roaring again and using their extra numbers from the bench to tire an already weary opposition, further goals came to Liam Robinson, Cameron Lloyd and Ian Baxter. Seeing the Tigers finish off the game with 5 goals to Leeds 1 in the 4th quarter.
Credit should go to Leeds who played the game in good spirit and battled to the final minute despite being under strength. It was an historic day for the club and a great victory. Now to the next challenge, three away trips in a row to strong experience league outfits.