Cats Tame Downtown Dogs to Open 2010 Season With Victory! - ROUND 1 WRAP-UP
This past weekend, the Hamilton Wildcats were set to open their 2010 season versus the perennial powerhouse Toronto Dingos at Humber College North in Toronto. After a very successful off-season, several impressive outdoor trainings sessions over the past month, as well as a strong showing at the 2010 'Brian Dunkin Pre-Season Cup'; the visiting Wildcats were looking to take a bite out of the Dingos on their home ground.
Despite a convincing win over the Downtown Dingos a week earlier at the Pre-Season Cup, the 'Cats were not taking anything for granted and were prepared to face a much different Toronto attack now that the games actually have meaning. As both Clubs took to the oval prior to the opening bounce, there were large number of new faces on both sides of the footy. Hamilton had some key losses since wrapping-up the 2009 season; with Canadian veteran Mike "Abs" Nolan retiring after 7 fantastic seasons, Hamilton 2009 'Rookie of the Year' Matthew "Windy" Witt vanishing into thin air, and veterans Luke Main, Craig Watt and ruckman Paul Lawson all MIA for Round #1. Now, as a small handful of '09 Wildcats walked out the door, '10 saw several new 'Cats enter the Den; with rookies Ed Debruijn, Mark Furlan, former 'Roo Luke Lombardini and former Wildcat (and most recently central Blue) Steve Bridle all pulling on the "yellow & black".
As the skies completely opened up, so did the '10 season for the Wildcats and Dingos; as rookie ruckman Debruijn started his career with a fantastic win on his first ruck contest, knocking the footy to the desk as rovers Bret "Nuts" Aiken and Lombardini worked together to clear the center square and launch the pill into the Hamilton forward line. As the temperature continued to drop, so did the rain; completely saturating all 36 players on the Humber North oval, and turning the normally soft Sherrin into something resembling a cinder block. With such poor conditions, marks and accurate kicks were a rarity in the 1st quarter, with only Hamilton cracking the goose-egg on the scoreboard and taking a 1 goal lead into the 1st intermission thanks to a great kick on the run from speedy Wildcat forward Derek "Camping with Walls" Rutten.
After a fantastic 1st quarter, with Hamilton's backline of Steve Bridle (playing in his 50th OAFL game), Kris McKillop, Justin Johns, Charles Thompson & Nick DiRago holding down the fort; the hometown Dingos took to the intermission licking their wounds, but definitely were not going down without a fight. Whatever was said to the 'red & black' during the break, definitely lit a fire under their paws; as they come out firing on all cylinders. After a practically flawless 1st quarter, Hamilton fell back on their heels and the quickness and experience of the Dingos seemed to stun the visiting 'Cats who watched their slim 1st quarter lead turn into a 2nd quarter deficit. With half the game now in the books and Hamilton's fantastic 1st quarter performance a distant memory, it was time for the Wildcats to take back the game by taking the body and returning to the hardnosed style of football they've come to be known for around the OAFL. As the 3rd quarter began, Hamilton again seemed to have some stride back in their step, and the dynamic duo of Aiken and Lombardini started to take over in the guts. A fine passage of play off Hamilton's back flank to the wing, opened-up the middle of the ground and after scooping-up a loose ball, Lombardini spotted Aiken on the run with a fantastic handball which he immediately converted into a goal from 40m out to again put the 'Cats back on top; and thus seemed to mark the beginning of Hamilton's comeback. Aiken's goal was followed-up immediately by Hamilton's '09 Leading Goal kicker Daniel Crouch, as he poked through a 45m beauty from a set shot, the first of his 2 on the day. As the 3rd quarter came to a close, Hamilton took a 2 goal lead into the break and their momentum carried them through to the final horn.
The visiting Wildcats eventually ran out winners on the day, 6.4.40 to 3.5.23, with several impressive individual performances on the day; many of which by players new to the game or suiting-up for the 'Cats for the first time. Rookie ruckman Ed "Flying Dutchman" Debruijn, had a cracker of a game to start his career, and after taking a solid bump in the 3rd frame should have a nice bruise to remember his first game by. 17 year old Aussie import, Mark "DD" Furlan also made a big impression in his first match with the 'Cats; kicking his 1st OAFL goal and earning the Round #1 Wildcats Hard Hat Award (Hardest Working Player) for his efforts! The Hamilton Wildcats AFC would also like to congratulate Steve Bridle for playing in his 50th OAFL game this past weekend, as well as welcoming him back to the "Wildcats Den". You were definitely missed mate, and it's great to have you back in the "yellow & black". Congrats to all new Wildcats who blooded themselves in their 1st game of footy this past weekend, and we look forward to seeing you all progress as the year goes on, and as our Club continues to win and move towards the ultimate goal: the 2010 OAFL Grand Final!!! C'arn the WILDCATS!!!
FINAL SCORE: Hamilton Wildcats 6.4.40 def Toronto Dingos 3.5.23
HAMILTON GOALS: Crouch (2), Aiken (1), Rutten (1), Furlan (1), Visser (1)
HAMILTON BEST: DeBruijn (BOG), Furlan, Thompson, Aiken, Lombardini, Settle
GAME PHOTOS: click 'MULTIMEDIA' tab then click on 'PHOTOS
NEXT GAME: (1-0) Hamilton Wildcats v (1-0) Central Blues; Saturday, May 15th @ 10am, Humber College North.