Nottingham vs Huddersfield
Nottingham hosted all three Round 2 league matches on a sunny day at a great new venue and were eager to play the 2011 Grand Final rematch against Huddersfield Rams on home soil in what was their first game of the season after a bye in Round 1. The Scorpions welcomed a host of new players to the club with a lot of green, young, British talent looking to make an impact in their debut.
A traditionally slow starting Scorpions came out firing in the first quarter taking control of the game early on with a total of 6 goals and 6 behinds to Rams 5 behinds. The scoring pace was set early by a new midfield and forward combination that saw Aussie import Andy Kraefft take control of the rucks, linking with returning player Vinny carey and mainstay Ash Swift on the ball. Martin Kearney, Sam Wood and Luke Wilken made the most of ball up front picking up a handful of goals each. Huddersfield moved the ball well up to their forwards given the chance but the score deficit was kept high by some great defense from Keith Farr, Lee Neicho and former front man turned full back Rich Lucas, putting pressure on the kickers and keeping them shooting from hard angles.
The second quarter saw Huddersfield up the pressure in what was a more even quarter, putting on some big hits and this time making the most of their chances bagging 3 goals and 3 behinds. The Scorpions kept a steady scoring rate though in a hard fought 4 goals and 5 behinds, where Andy Kraefft was forced to take a few long shots near the 40m, to end the half ahead Nottingham 71 to Huddersfield 26.
The third quarter saw more spirited defence from Huddersfield but their lack of fresh substitutes began to tell as Scorpions newcomer Niall Crowcroft exploded onto the scene quickly scoring two goals. Martin Kearney bagged a couple more thanks to some assists from the midfielders, but a few missed kicks gave the Scorpions 4 goals and 4 behinds. Huddersfield again got themselves around the Scorpions defence into some good scoring opportunities but couldn’t convert ending the quarter with only 1 goal and 4 behinds.
The Scorpions ran away with the final quarter as fatigue set into Huddersfield. Goals were shared around players, one even being scored by a run up the middle from centre half back Keith Farr. Assists from the midfielders set up virtually all of the Scorpions goals in the final quarter but some poor accuracy led to 7 goals with 8 behinds. Huddersfield fought valiantly until the end getting 3 behinds to close out the game Nottingham 149 to Huddersfield 40.
The final score doesn’t quite do justice to Huddersfield, who with a bit more accuracy and fresh legs could have easily closed the gap. All in all a good game for the Scorpions start to the season against an always resilient opponent.
Birmingham vs Manchester
After last week’s slow start and Manchester’s big win, Birmingham had something to prove and jumped out of the blocks and caught Manchester flat footed scoring the first 2 goals of the game. The contest was fast and clean in perfect conditions for football on the large Nottingham field. Both backlines were under pressure making it difficult to find clean marking options but Manchester broke through with Matt Kileeney cleaning up on the ground to even the scores late in the quarter.
The second quarter was played out in similar fashion to the first with Birmingham scoring quickly, early in the quarter creating a two goal breathing space. The ball was being moved around the ground well by both teams with some nice passages of play up and down the full length of the field with high marks, and fast running. The midfield battle was hard fought on the ground and midfield clearances were split 50/50.
The third quarter the game was anyone’s and Manchester started to make their move. Manchester’s big men started to take control in the air making it difficult for Birmingham to clear the ball from the backline. Birmingham started to use their short game and created some opportunities to get the ball moving but Manchester’s numbers were starting to become overwhelming and Birmingham were starting to tire. Manchester put on 4 goals and finished the quarter with a 2 goal lead although they had the opportunity to create a substantial lead going into the last after getting the edge on Birmingham for the quarter. The game was primed for an exciting last quarter.
The last quarter Birmingham came out firing early as they had at the start of the first three quarters and kicked an early goal to give themselves a chance but after a few minutes and some hard hits on the smaller Birmingham midfield Manchester was looking to have Birmingham’s measure scoring the next goal. Birmingham were showing fatigue and Manchester’s class started to shine through and the cream rose to the top as the game hit its pinnacle. By half way through the quarter Manchester had control of the midfield and capitalized on Birmingham’s turnovers with loose men all around the ground. Manchester moved the ball quickly into the forward line for more scoring opportunities. Birmingham fought on with tired legs but Manchester came out winners. Manchester scored a few goals late in the quarter blowing the final score out to a 30 point lead and was capped off with a classic ‘junk time’ goal by Alistair Lindop (Bundy) with an overhead snap shot.