Shady Punter Round 2 Review
AFL Quebec reached another milestone in Round 2 as women’s footy launched its 18-a-side, 3 game series in Ottawa between the Angels and Swans. Not to be outdone, the men returned to Parc Vanier as the Wooders and Demons went head to head and the Bombers squared off against the inform Dockers.
Saturday brought glorious sunshine and a slight breeze in Ottawa as the Angels, clad in the iconic orange of the NGD Giants, went head to head with the reigning OAFL women’s premiers. The Swans adapted to the tricky breeze best in the first term moving the ball well and scoring two goals through the class and poise of stars Holly Constanza and Kelly Kennedy. The Angels responded with a major of their own from engine room dynamo Val Moreau and at the first change the Swans clung to an 8 point lead.
With the breeze at their backs in the second term the Angels lifted, Coach Dan Robinson’s pleas for greater attack on the ball were met and Montreal began to control the play. Margo Legault was a standout at stoppages as she dominated the middle of the ground and gave the visiting Angels all the momentum. The Swans fantastic defensive pressure and the Angels wayward kicking in front of goal would see them only net 4 behinds, the Swans managing 2 behinds of their own and the margin reduced to a single goal at the main break.
The third term turned into an arm wrestle that mirrored the evenly matched squads’ talent and determination. The Angels got brilliant service from star of the future Gab Benedetti and veteran Mimi Eboka, Francesca Benedetti taking her game to the next level as one of the Angels best. The Swans weren’t to be outdone, Kelly Cambridge a rock down back while Sarah Ennor’s silky smooth talents allowed her to sneak through the quarter’s only goal and give the Swans a handy 12 point break heading in to the final term.
After an epic three quarters of football the Swans would prove why they beat all comers in the OAFL in 2014. Using their experience on the full size field Ottawa overrun the tiring Montreal outfit, Vivian Nguyen and Holly Constanza orchestrating a late surge that saw the Swans kick three goals to none and win a tough first up battle by 31 points.
Sunday’s first men’s game pitted the 2012 Grand Finalists Old Montreal and Laval off against each other. Fresh off a surprise victory over the Demons the inform Dockers went head to head against the Bombers who challenged the Wooders for three quarters in round one before fading late in the match. It was a free flowing affair at the first bounce, the Bombers and Dockers trading goals with both teams never more than a kick apart. However, the quarter would belong to the game’s only multiple goal kicker Docker Steve McCammon, his attack on the ball and contested possession count along with two goals giving the purple haze an 8 point buffer at the first break.
The Dockers solid play continued in the second term, McCammon putting on a clinic across the centre adding two more goals to his tally with spearhead Darren Murphy – locked down in a fantastic defensive effort by Bomber defensemen Josue Gavidia - managing to finally break the shackles and slot through his first of the day. Solid play from Bogdan Rotaru and a second goal to the always dangerous Todd Rogers kept the Bombers in the match, the red and black army lucky to head into the main break trailing by 14 points.
With the game slipping away from Laval, Paul Fairbrother stepped up his already impressive game and in addition to dominating the centre bounces started to make an impact around the ground. The problem for the Bombers was that the Dockers had every player doing their part, Justin Leyva, Dominic Coogen, Aaron Fellows and Jack Robson driving Old Port forward again and again and as a result the Dockers lead had stretched out to 24 by the last change.
As the do or die fourth quarter began the Fairbrother, Rotaru and Rogers trio were joined by an inspired effort from Rohan Bone as the Bombers lifted themselves off the canvas and in a matter of minutes had drawn back to within a single goal. With a stunning come from behind win now a possibility, the Dockers were under siege. Rocher and Andrada were playing out of their skin holding the fort down back, Junior Dejoie getting some important touches to help the team stay in front. Three Bomber goals to nil saw Laval draw to within 7 points, but time would be their ultimate enemy, the siren signaling another impressive Dockers victory.
The final game of the round had league juggernaut and reigning AFL Quebec champions squaring off with the Demons who had suffered a disappointing loss in round one. The shady punter had predicted an easy 63 point win for the West Island squad, some pundits fearing a triple digit massacre might be on the cards. Eleven seconds after the opening bounce the signs were ominous, Wilfred Houvion had streamed forward and kicked the first Wooders goal and the Demons were yet to touch the ball. Moments later déjà vu, Houvion had his second, the Wooders were 12 points in front and the possibility of a triple digit margin seemed only the tip of the iceberg. At that breaking point the Demons were shocked into life as Andrew Michelmore turned the tide in the centre square and linked with Kyle Graham who put on a master class up forward booting 4 goals. Houvion kicked his third for the term and Robinson added one of his own as the quarter drew to a close, the stunned crowd looking on as the scores were locked at 25 apiece.
With the breeze at their backs the Demons had a real chance to take the lead early in the second term. Anderson and Pouessel were giving the Wooders forwards headaches and a shoulder injury to James Rassi had left the West Island squad without a direct avenue to goal. Phil Manassa started to make his presence felt and Dan Robinson picked up the scoring slack as the Wooders again surged and looked to shake the plucky Demons. 8 scoring shots would only result in 3 goals, the Demons backline holding firm on the back of some classy work from Simon Richmond. Inspired quarters by O’Farrell and Michelmore, both of which slotted goals saw the Demons weather the storm and head into the main break just 8 points adrift.
Having tasted defeat just once in their existence, the Wooders were no strangers to rising to a challenge, but an ankle injury to Dan Robinson threw another spanner into their well-oiled machine and the Demons started the third term playing inspired football. Simon Carenvale began to hurt the Wooders as he amassed quality touches through the midfield and Chris Cueller staked his claim as the league’s most courageous player as he backed into the packs and threw himself into every contest turning the 50/50 chances in favour of the red and the blue. An inspired goal by Matt Ingersole and three more to Kyle Graham swung the game sharply in favour of the Demons. Anderson had kept Wooder Fabio Petrosa in close check for two and a half quarters, but a mix up on a play and a free kick in front of goal allowed the league’s most dangerous forward to slot through two goals late, another to Robinson giving the Wooders a one point lead facing the breeze in the final term.
With a vocal crowd cheering the underdogs on the Demons charged out of the blocks in the final quarter, Ingersole added two more goals to his tally and another courtesy of Michelleti saw the Montreal Demons cause the upset of the round winning by 17 points over the shell shocked Wooders.